Did People Learn About Alcohol During Prohibition Era?

by Mike Miller April 13, 2014

This is the fifth in a series of blogs here at onlinealcoholclass.com looking at the interesting history of alcohol during the Prohibition Era (1919-1933).

We have already discussed how common it was for Prohibition agents to confiscate booze and then sell it right back to the original owners. It also was quite common to accept bribes, with the average Speakeasy paying out about $400 per month in bribe money to local law and political officials.

Chicago was a major hub for illegal bootlegging activity. In the summer of 1920 in Chicago, 134,000 gallons of whiskey (670,000 bottles) vanished from a warehouse where it was being stored after being seized.

It has been estimated that during Prohibition more than 50 million gallons of whiskey help in government warehouses went missing.

Without the help of law enforcement the Volstead Act was doomed to failure. There were more corrupt Prohibition agents than honest ones, many of whom were on the regular payroll of mob figures. The portrayal of the situation in HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” is fairly close to accurate. While there not have been a character named Nucky Thompson, the other big players of the day, Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein and Waxey Gordon are all real-life figures who made millions on illegal alcohol.

I hope you are enjoying this series because we will continue to look at it in the next onlinealcoholclass.com blog.

Prohibition Created Strong Need for 24 Hour Alcohol Awareness Class

by Mike Miller April 8, 2014

When the Volstead Act was passed in 1919 alcoholic beverages were banned in the United States. That most certainly did not mean all consumption ceased. This is the fourth in a series of blogs here at onlinealcoholclass.com looking at the Prohibition Era. If you have not read the previous installments, I encourage you to go back now. I am sure you will find it interesting.

Have you ever heard of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon? These are two tiny territories just off the southern tip of Newfoundland. The importance of these two tiny bergs is that during Prohibition there was tremendous pressure both in the United States and Canada to keep booze from being manufactured and sold in the USA. Saint-Pierre and Maquilon just happened to belong to France.

During Prohibition they became the world’s greatest importer of alcoholic beverages. It brought in more than 3 million bottles of champagne making it France’s biggest overseas market. It also imported vast quantities of brandy, Armagnac, calvados, and other spirits.

Neither the US nor French governments had any explanation as to why a tiny locale with 4,000 residents developed such a sudden attachment to booze. Nor had they any explanation for the nearly two dozen warehouses that popped up at the main port in Saint-Pierre.

Interesting, huh? The next onlinealcoholclass.com blog will continue to look at this interesting era in alcohol history in the United States.

Could Alcohol Course Have Saved the Volstead Act?

by Mike Miller April 3, 2014

This is the third in a series of blogs looking at interesting facts and circumstances surrounding the Prohibition Era.

How do you think the Volstead Act affected crime? I know many people who would believe that if there was less consumption of alcoholic beverages crime would go down.

That certainly was not the case in America in the 1920s after alcohol was banned. The national murder rate went up by 33% after Prohibition began. In the first 2 ½ years more than 30 Volstead Act agents were killed in the line of duty. Combine that with the fact that they were paid almost nothing (less than garbage men), you can guaranty that the attrition rate was huge.

Not only were the agents in danger, but the public was in danger from the agents. In Chicago alone Prohibition agents gunned down 23 innocent civilians in less than a decade.

Not only were Prohibition agents careless, they were also quite dishonest. A common ruse was for agents to confiscate liquor, then immediately sell it back to the original owners. Anyone who has watched the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” starring Steve Bascom knows that bribery was routine. The average establishment paid out about $400 per month to police and local political officials in bribes.

We will continue to look at the Prohibition Era in the next onlinealcoholclass.com blog.

Alcohol Awareness Classes Were No Part of Volstead Act

by Mike Miller March 28, 2014

Let's look at some interesting facts about the Volstead Act and things that happened during Prohibition.

In the previous entry, we discovered that the act that banned alcohol in the country was named for a man who could have cared less whether or not people drank alcohol.

Did you know that the Act also included a clause that insured that there was “an ample supply of alcohol…to promote its use in scientific research and the development of fuel, dye and other lawful industries”? So, while banning alcohol, the act also insured there was an ample supply.

It has been speculated that a primary reason this law passed in the first place was due to the vague wording. The very fine print is where the true intent of the law is revealed. As we know with our elected representatives today, they do not read the legislation thoroughly. Today’s congressmen and senators have ample staff to go through the material, a luxury not available to elected officials in 1919. The fine print of the bill outlawed intoxicating beverages with an alcohol content greater than 0.5 percent – about the same as sauerkraut.

The majority of congressmen who supported the bill believed that beer and fortified wines would still be allowed. Oops – you should have read the whole bill!

We will continue to look at the Volstead Act and Prohibition in the next onlinealcoholclass.com blog.

Did Volstead Produce Need for Alcohol Education?

by Mike Miller March 23, 2014

As a counselor for online alcohol school, I like to learn about societal behavior and the laws that govern the consumption of fermented beverages. Recently, I was reading about the Prohibition era and learned some interesting information.

Did you know that the Volstead Act (the definitive law that outlawed fermented beverages) was remarkably vague? The law was named for Andrew J. Volstead, a senator from Minnesota whose most distinguishing attribute was a spectacular mustache that hung from his upper lip like a bearskin rug.

Though he did not imbibe, Volstead certainly did not mind that others did and personally never would have sought a national ban on alcohol. His name was attached because he was the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and helped draft the law.

Being associated with a ban on alcohol did nothing to support Volstead's favor in his home state – he was promptly voted out of office in the next election.

Unfortunately for the millions of Americans who were drinkers, the Volstead Act survived for many more years. Enacted in 1919, it stayed in effect until 1933.

We will continue to look at a few interesting tid bits on the Volstead act and the Prohibition Era in the next installment of the onlinealcoholclass.com blog.

Do These Irish Kids Need Mandated Alcohol Education?

by Mike Miller March 18, 2014

The problem with children using alcohol and other drugs is a global. As part of the onlinealcoholclass.com blog, I look to look at incidents all over the planet to help our readers see what happens in other parts of the world. From the headline, I am sure you guessed that this blog deals with Ireland.

Children as young as 14 were left violently ill after binging on alcohol and class A drugs as a sell-out gig in Belfast descended into utter chaos. As reported in www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk.

Eighteen concert-goers were taken to hospital and dozens more needed medical treatment inside and outside the Odyssey Arena, where Dutch artist DJ Hardwell was playing to a crowd of 10,000 back in early February.

People described how they were confronted by scenes of horror in the aftermath of the gig, with some comparing the scene to a war zone.

One parent described seeing children with their mouths foaming and trying to jump in the River Lagan. Apparently they were overheated, and sweating profusely tried to cool off by jumping into the icy river.

Others stood in a daze both inside and outside the club with drool running out of their mouths, unable to communicate.

Charity workers who responded to the crisis told how children were left so ill that they could not speak and their eyes were rolling into the backs of their heads.

Teenagers admitted taking drugs including heroin, ecstasy and legal highs.

In total, 108 young people were treated inside and outside the venue.

Have you heard of events like these? Unfortunately they are becoming all too common. How do we keep our youth from experimenting with drugs and alcohol?

Crashing into Police Car Will Land You in Alcohol Class if Not Jail!

by Mike Miller March 13, 2014

Every day thousands and thousands of people drink alcohol and drive under the influence. The scary fact is that less than 5% will get caught. Did you know it's been estimated that a driver over the legal blood-alcohol concentration limit of .08%, will operate a vehicle over 400 times before getting caught?

However, one way to get busted right away is to crash your vehicle into a cop car. As reported in www.chicagotribune.com.

A southwest suburban woman was charged with drunk driving after she swerved into a Hickory Hills police car that was trying to pull her over and then fled from the scene, leaving behind two officers who were injured and trapped inside their squad car.

One of the injured officers recognized the driver as Olivia D. Aguilar, 22, and directed police to her home about a block away from the crash site, a Cook County prosecutor said Saturday.

Police tracked blood and shoeprints in the snow to Aguilar, who they reported was belligerent and seemed intoxicated.

Aguilar accelerated and swerved toward the officers when they lit their emergency lights and attempted to curb her for driving without headlights, said Assistant Cook County State’s Atty. Anisa Jordan.

Aguilar, of the 7900 block of West 93rd Street in Hickory Hills, smashed into the fully-marked cruiser and didn’t stop to check on the officers’ condition or offer help, Jordan said.

The officers had to be extricated from the cruiser and were hospitalized with bruising and swelling, Jordan said. Their prognosis was “to be determined,” Jordan told Cook County Associate Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil in bond court.

Aguilar faces a battery of charges, including two counts of aggravated battery, failure to stop after an injury accident, driving under the influence, failure to reduce speed, no proof of insurance, failure to give aid, no headlights and driving with a suspended license. Jordan said Aguilar’s license was suspended due to financial reasons.

Kuriakos Ciesil ordered Aguilar held Saturday on $10,000 bail. She’ll appear in court again Tuesday.

Will Tougher Laws Reduce Need for Alcohol Awareness Courses?

by Mike Miller March 8, 2014

The desire to reduce the number of driving under the influence occurrences has been debated for more than 50 years. So far, there has not been one legitimate action that has significantly reduced DUI infractions with the exception of alcohol awareness classes. Once again, the notion that tougher punishment will keep people from driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. What do you think?

Do you think the laws should be tougher if a person is a repeat offender? I sure do. As reported in www.insurancejournal.com.

In Seattle, a man who lost his parents and whose wife and infant son were seriously injured last March by a drunken driver is pushing the state to pass a measure that would make it a felony charge to drive under the influence when the driver has three prior offenses within 10 years.

Under current law, a DUI is a felony only if there are four or more prior offenses within 10 years. In the past lawmakers considered this but decided it would be too expensive. Given that a person have driven intoxicated more than 100 times for each time h is actually caught, this law seems like a no-brainer.

Why would it be more expensive? State officials claim that lowering the felony threshold to the third conviction would cost about $200 million for construction of a new prison to confine the number of drunken drivers.

It appears to me that Washington has a serious problem with alcoholism and DUI. I think they should implement mandatory alcohol awareness classes as part of the driver education program and people should lose their license much more quickly.

Could Faulty Breathalyzer Keep You Out of Alcohol School?

by Mike Miller March 3, 2014

Are you sick and tired of guilty offenders getting off on technicalities? I remember hearing about someone getting out of a speeding ticket because the radar gun had not been properly calibrated. Now comes the same possibility with Breathalyzer tests.

An Oklahoma Supreme Court decision will likely affect some pending driving under the influence (DUI) cases in the state. Attorney Stephen Fabian successfully got his client's 2012 Breathalyzer results thrown out.

Fabian argued that the state did not an adequate list of maintenance procedures for their "Intoxilyzer 8000" written down at the time of his client's arrest. He claims that there never has been a procedure created that puts down in writing to say 'this is how it's supposed to be done. Typical legalese from an attorney, right?

This decision will affect dozens of pending DUI cases where the arrest was made before May of 2013. That's when the Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence listed its maintenance procedures for the Intoxilyzer 8000.

It certainly will garner more attention and fees for Fabian as his firm has at least 40 to 50 pending cases that could be affected. The decision will not impact DUI cases that have already been settled or pleaded out.

There are 164 Intoxilyzer 8000s now being used in the state of Oklahoma. It's the only model used by law enforcement in Oklahoma. What do you think about this?

New Utah Law Will Put More People into Alcohol Educational Classes

by Mike Miller February 26, 2014

It just so happens I just wrote about how I hate seeing guilty people escape through loopholes. That blog entry was about an Oklahoma court that was about to throw out numerous driving under the influence convictions based on the level of calibration of a Breathalyzer.

It appears there is a law enforcement official and state legislator in Utah who would agree with me. As reported in www.sltrib.com.

Rep. Lee Perry, a Utah Highway Patrol lieutenant, doesn’t like it when drunken drivers use legal loopholes to escape conviction.

The Republican introduced a bill that would reword the state’s driving under the influence (DUI) law. Currently the law bans driving "under the influence" of alcohol or drugs "to a degree that renders a person incapable of safely operating a vehicle."

The trouble is that attorneys argue that if a person was pulled over for something besides erratic driving — such as a broken tail light — police don’t really know if the driver was intoxicated to a degree that made them "incapable of safely operating a vehicle."

His bill would reword the law so that it bans driving while "impaired to the slightest degree" by alcohol or drugs. How do you feel about that? A dose of cough syrup could trigger a positive alcohol result on a Breathalyzer.

I am in favor of stricter DUI laws, but I also encourage stronger efforts at education. More alcohol awareness classes and online DUI classes could seriously help prevent DUI behavior.