Topics: Emerging Media, College of Communication Information and Media, Immersive Learning

January 8, 2009

The sobering and potentially devastating consequences of driving under the influence are being examined as part of a new Ball State University emerging media project. 

Think B4UDrive will provide high school students and other audiences with a closer look at the judicial system through a DVD and an interactive Web site. The effort showcases again Ball State's ability to provide information and educational offerings via its Emerging Media Initiative, said Maria Williams-Hawkins, associate professor of telecommunications.

Videotaped in Angola and Steuben counties, local residents, police and law enforcement officials are being used to provide a realistic feel for the proceedings. So far more than 70 hours of video have been shot by the students working with Judge Allen Wheat of the Steuben County Circuit Court in Angola to produce the thought-provoking educational message. 

"This project focuses on what happens when a person is arrested for driving under the influence," Williams-Hawkins said. "We follow a person from the point of drinking in a local bar, being arrested and then participating in the trial.

"Our students are immersed in a legal educational project that will teach the fine points of the American judicial system. I think it will give viewers a good idea of what they would face if they are charged with driving under the influence."

Sober Vision Productions, a student company, will produce the informational DVD for students in grades 6-12 as well as for community service organizations. The interactive Web site will aid further instruction on police procedures and operating under the influence charges; it will present a story and provide individual background elements from the perspective of the person arrested, the police, the lawyers, the judge, the jurors and the students who produced it.  

"Viewers will not be shown one outcome of the trial," Williams-Hawkins said. "They can decide what should happen to the defendant. We think it will be very educational for young people who have had little to no involvement with the judicial process. In fact, it could be sobering to think about what could happen to them if they are arrested." 

The project will be marketed to school districts beginning in early 2009.