JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and the Mississippi Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control worked with The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, to bring a life-saving lesson about the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking to students at two Mississippi high schools over the past two days. Brandon Silveria and his father Tony spoke to students about the importance of “making the right choice” about alcohol, and that if students are under the age of 21, the only responsible decision is not to drink. Brandon is a young man who was involved in an alcohol-related crash at age 17 just before his high school prom.
“In Mississippi in 2008, 137 youths under age 18 were arrested for driving under the influence, 269 youths were arrested for liquor law violations, and 104 youths were arrested for drunkenness,” said Attorney General Hood. “It is important we continue in our efforts to stop drunk driving and underage drinking. We must do more to keep our nation’s roadways safe and alcohol-free. I am proud to have Brandon and Tony Silveria with us in Mississippi to communicate their life-saving message.”
“The goal with Brandon and Tony’s presentation is to raise awareness about the serious risks associated with drunk driving and underage drinking and help our youth to make the right choice about alcohol,” said Mark Hicks, Chief of Enforcement with the Mississippi Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
During the presentation, Brandon told students his wrenching story of how as a high school student he had everything a teenager could want—a job, a girlfriend and plans for the future—until he had a few drinks at a party and chose to drive home. After falling asleep at the wheel, crossing the centerline and crashing into a tree, he was left in a coma for three months and spent several years in rehabilitation. Brandon was so badly injured that basic motor functions such as walking, talking and swallowing had to be re-learned. He has permanent brain injury and suffers from dangerous seizures. Brandon’s presentations continue to receive standing ovations from students across the country.
“What you become depends on the choices that you make,” said Brandon. “When I was 17, I had a job and a girlfriend. Because of my crash, I lost both of them. My hope is that by sharing my experiences with other young people, I can prevent others from being hurt or killed.”
Through educational efforts such as the Silveria lecture and video program, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility educates students across the country about the hazards of underage drinking and driving. Since Brandon and his father Tony have become spokespeople for The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, they have addressed well over three million high school students nationwide and have been featured on such television programs as “Rescue 911,” NBC’s “Today,” as well as media outlets across the country.
Matthew B. Harakal
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility