Image of the Grim Reader entering a classroom to remove a student who will become one of the living deadImage of Emergency personnel helping a victim in a dramatization of an alcohol-related collisionImage of a dramatization of a student arrested for a DUI


California Highway Patrol


Every 15 Minutes is a two-day program that includes a realistic dramatization of the consequences of drinking and personal safety that includes everyone from students, teachers, parents, police officers, emergency response personnel and coroners.


Alcohol and Other Drugs


High school juniors and seniors




The title, Every 15 Minutes, comes from the unfortunate fact that during the early 1980s every 15 minutes someone in the United States was killed in an alcohol-related traffic collision. While the implementation of new laws and grassroots programs have helped bring the death rate down to one death every 30 minutes, this figure continues to be unacceptable.


Every 15 Minutes is a two-day program that challenges high school juniors and seniors to think about the consequences of drinking, personal safety and the responsibility of making mature decisions when lives are involved. The program seeks to provide students with a hard-hitting, realistic dramatization of the aftermath of a fatal alcohol-related car crash.


The Every 15 Minutes program begins with an outdoor assembly where students witness a dramatization of the aftermath of a fatal alcohol-related collision involving two automobiles. Emergency personnel, including police, fire, paramedics, helicopter rescue and the coroner’s office, respond to the crash scene with sirens blaring the crews rapidly get to work on freeing the victims from the automobiles. Emergency responders transport those that are critically injured while others are declared dead and are removed by the coroner.

The designated student drunk driver is given a field sobriety test and is arrested for driving under the influence. After the assembly students return to class; however, throughout the day selected students are removed from class by a “grim reaper” character while a police officer reads the student’s obituary. The student then becomes one of the “living dead” and is not allowed to interact with other students.

The dramatization provides convincing overtones as to the loss felt by everyone due to a fatal alcohol-involved collision. Parents even receive a mock death certificate. At the end of the day, the “living dead” students go to a local resort to stay overnight in order to effectively simulate the physical and emotional impact that the students is no longer alive. The program culminates the following day with an assembly featuring the “living dead”, students, their parents, a mock DUI trial and testimonies from relatives of real DUI victims.

With funding available from the California Office of Traffic Safety, the California Highway Patrol provides mini-grants (up to $9,999.99) to agencies and organizations implementing the program. To apply for a grant, contact your local California Highway Patrol office or call Denise Tapia listed in the contact section below.


This powerful program helps the students see members of their community in a different light. They are no longer just cops, doctors, paramedics or firefighters, but are mentors and human beings who care about the youth in the community. It also creates awareness among students that they are not invincible and allows them to experience first hand how their actions affect the lives of so many other people. Further, research has shown that after participating in the Every 15 Minutes program, students are less likely to drive when drinking and are less likely to be a passenger with a driver who had been drinking.


Name: Denise Tapia, Teen Choices Grant Coordinator
Organization: California Highway Patrol
Phone: 916-843-3351

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