15 courses you should take ASAP

By LANCE TAPLEY  |  September 13, 2013

In Maine, if you’ve been arrested for Operating Under the Influence (OUI) and you decline to take a breath or blood test, you will automatically lose your license — again, generally speaking — for 275 days for a first-time refusal. For folks under 21, “If you are found operating, or attempting to operate, a motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in your body, you will lose your license for one year.” That’s from the state Bureau of Highway Safety. Their web page on OUI laws is illuminating: http://www.maine.gov/dps/bhs/impaired-driving/laws.html.

Here are two final street-law rules, and they are not contradictory: 1) Obey the police without talking back; they have guns. 2) Generally, you don’t have to tell the police anything when they ask you questions, except your name; but be polite.

I must again give a ritual disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. But here’s a lawyer, Zach Heiden, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, elaborating on dealing with the cops: “I think that it is very hard in the moment for anyone to answer any request from a police officer with anything other than ‘Uh, sure.’ How about: ‘I have a personal rule against consenting to police questioning without an attorney present,’ and ‘I have a personal rule against consenting to searches,’ and ‘I am not trying to make your job harder, but if you would like to search my belongings you are going to need to show me a warrant.’”

Remedial Alcohol and Drugs
The obvious-yet-often-futilely repeated Eternal Truths about alcohol for young people are: 1) flee drunken parties (see previous item); 2) don’t operate a vehicle when intoxicated; 3) don’t get in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver; and 4) beware of sex when intoxicated. These lessons could be preached (more or less) about the use of other drugs, although the use of some drugs requires additional and
heavier warnings.

But here’s the problem: parents, teachers, Officer Friendly, and other old fogies have been preaching these sermons for generations. Yet they don’t seem to be learned very well. Why? One scientific theory is that until you’re 25 years old or so the decision-making part of your brain may not be fully developed. Sorry about that! (I could soften the blow by telling you how stupid I was in my youth, but the statute of limitations may not have expired.) The trouble with the theory about undeveloped brains, of course, is that there’s plenty of evidence that excessive alcohol use and a tendency toward bad decisions can last whole lifetimes.

Some people believe that warnings from elders are wasted, that people only learn from their mistakes. But if that were the case, there would be no such thing as human wisdom.

ABCs of Writing
Before we get to the sex part, let’s have some relief from paternal advice and go to a piece of professorial advice. There’s no specific skill more important in college — and, in the Communications Age, after college — than writing ability. The statute of limitations has expired on this misdeed, so let me confess that in my frivolous youth I wrote a paper for a stressed-out friend (not for money) with, on my part, no knowledge whatsoever of the subject. The paper received a B (as in b.s.?) The professor who read it was generous, probably, because he liked reading comprehensible (if vapid) sentences — simple and clear sentences. As a teacher, I found that few students wrote them.

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