By Dennis Ting
Capital News Service
ADAMS MORGAN, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mike Bokman and Frank Mills are bartenders and best friends who are also in the business of safety. Drink safety that is.
The DrinkLock is a new invention intended to be served as a drink coaster, which would then become an adhesive cover that would stick to the sides of the cup if the user needs to leave it unattended. Once the adhesive is removed, the word “void” appears to let the user know the cover has been lifted.
For Bokman, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, this is a very personal issue.
“I was actually a victim of drink tampering myself,” Bokman said. “My 21st birthday, I woke up at this Greyhound station. I was bleeding. I had blood on my face and I had no clue what happened. I had no recollections. It was just like a total blackout.”
Bokman and Mills said they were inspired to create the DrinkLock, which launched in September, after seeing that too many people were trying to protect their drinks by placing their coaster or napkins over the top of the glass.
By creating a tamper-resistant cover, Bokman and Mills, of Alexandria, Virginia, are hoping to be the first line of defense against drink tampering. Bokman acknowledged that there were other new tools out there to detect drink tampering, like the nail polish that detects date rape drugs developed earlier this year, but said he believes the DrinkLock is the most effective tool.
“Who knows what people are making in their basement,” Bokman asked. “People make the craziest drugs. They put stuff in there. I don’t know if I’d want to trust something that’s going to change color. This (DrinkLock) is fool proof.”
More than 90 percent of rapes involve alcohol, according to Stephanie Rivero, the assistant coordinator for the CARE to Stop Violence program at the University of Maryland.
Many of these alcohol-related rapes also involve drink tampering, but it is hard to find accurate statistics about these cases.
Rohypnol, known by the street name “roofies,” is a sedative that causes victims whose drinks are spiked with it to have no recollection of events. It is among the most well known date rape drugs, though there are many others that can have similar effects on victims.
“There are a lot of challenges with date rape,” Rivero said. “The traditional idea of roofies being the date rape drug is not true anymore. Many people use over-the-counter painkillers and prescription drugs.”
Rivero said she thinks the DrinkLock is a great idea, although the challenge is that it places the burden on the victim to remember to place the cover on.
But there are others who herald it as a great invention to prevent drink spiking.
“It’s going to take a lot longer to change the culture and to change the predator’s mindset, and in the meantime, we need ways to prevent the risk,” Cloe Buzan, a bartender in Bethesda, Maryland, said.
The DrinkLocks have made their way across the country, and even across the globe, with covers popping up in California and even in Germany. Bokman and Mills say they are working on a more effective version, which they hope to release soon.
DrinkLock coasters are available in quantities of 20 or more for 50 cents apiece at www.drinklock.com.