A defense attorney in Colorado Springs, CO is taking a different step in the fight against drunk driving, offering a $1,000 scholarship to teens willing to write about their experiences driving under the influence.

"I was trying to find what might be something that is a light-bulb moment for these kids," Christian Schwaner told The Denver Post. "Self-admission and self-education are very powerful tools."

Schwaner has something of a first-person view on drunk-driving teens, having represented a number of youths facing DUI charges. His approach for the scholarship is pushing the teens to not only admit to drinking and driving and recount the circumstances of their incident, but to research the dangers and stats that come along with this risky behavior. According to Schwaner, the teens will use this information to develop "concrete steps" to prevent them from climbing behind the wheel while intoxicated again.

Unsurprisingly, though, the attorney's approach is raising some eyebrows in the local community, largely because this scholarship could be interpreted as incentivizing teens to drive drunk.

"I think it's a good deed he's doing," Trooper Nate Reid, a spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol, said. Reid added, though, that applicants for the scholarship should be asked to do more, so that teens aren't given an incentive to drive drunk just to snag some fodder for the scholarship essay.

"I hope the program works and these young people can admit their faults and then educate their peers. I just think there needs to [be] more to it," Trooper Reid said.

Schwaner's program is receiving some strong support on a higher level, though, with Mark Waller, a tough-on-drunk-driving Republican representing Colorado Springs in the state house, praising the scholarship.

"The average person drives over 80 times before they are caught drinking and driving," Rep. Waller told The Denver Post. "If [Schwaner] has kids engaging in something thought-provoking to change that behavior, after the third or 10th time, that potentially saves lives."

We want to know your thoughts on this. Is offering teens money to admit to and research drunk driving a good idea, or does it just incentivize risky behavior? What additional requirements would you add to the scholarship program? Do you think $1,000 is enough to keep teens from driving under the influence? Head into Comments and have your say.


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