Poor drinking habits learned in college carry consequences

A man arrested on his fourth alcohol-related charge in two years blames his learned behavior on the party culture of college.


SAFFORD – When Rueben Duane Hales left to attend Arizona State University (ASU), he didn’t realize he would return with a degree in alcoholism.

Hales, 26, was arrested Wednesday for his fourth alcohol violation in the last two years after he was pulled over while allegedly driving while intoxicated. He said his years involved in a fraternity and as a club promoter while at ASU led him to have a problem with alcohol.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Rueben Hales was booked into the Graham County Jail on a warrant referencing a previous DUI case.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO:
Rueben Hales was booked into the Graham County Jail on a warrant referencing a previous DUI case.

According to a Safford Police report, Hales was southbound on 8th Avenue at about 4 p.m. when an officer identified him. Believing Hales had an active warrant for failing to appear in court on previous DUI charges filed June 30, the officer turned around and followed him.

After receiving confirmation of the warrant from County Dispatch, the officer initiated a traffic stop and Hales pulled over into the Casa De Flores apartment complex parking lot at 1775 S. 20th Ave.

Hales showed various signs of intoxication while speaking with the officer and refused to say how much he had to drink that day, according to the report. The officer also found a liquor bottle wrapped in a shirt in the passenger seat that still had a small amount of liquid inside.

According to the report, Hales repeatedly stated he developed a drinking problem in college and that he came home to get away from “partying” too much. He added that he wanted to seek help overcoming his alcohol problem.

Hales was booked into the jail on his warrant with additional aggravated DUI charges pending charging from the County Attorney’s Office and test results to determine his blood-alcohol level.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drinking alcohol in college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher education experience. While many students already have experience drinking before attending college, the new environment can exacerbate the problem and lead to binge drinking, which often has dire consequences. According to the institute, about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries each year; about 696,000 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking and about 97,000 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

The NIAAA is attempting to curb the number of students who succumb to the pitfalls of alcohol abuse and have targeted individual students, especially those in higher-risk groups such as freshmen, athletes and members of Greek organizations, with information designed to change students’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors so they drink less, take fewer risks and experience fewer harmful consequences.

For more information on individual and environmental alcohol abuse prevention strategies, the NIAAA has created its College Alcohol Intervention Matrix. The information can be found at www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/CollegeAIM.