Friday, April 27, 2012

Zero Tolerance, Zero Chances

It's not like it used to be.

When I was in high school, it was a regular occurance: it seemed every class had a crash story.

Each year, someone crashed on the way home from a party or event. Nearly always, they were drunk. Nearly always, other young adults in the car were, too. If we were lucky, everyone would get to go home from the hospital. That didn't always happen.

Drunk youth crashes were considered something that was inevitable.

Not anymore.

From April 30 to May 13, special resources will be focused on underaged drunk driving. Missouri law enforcement, schools and others who love teens, want to make sure Missouri youth celebrate spring, prom and graduation safely and while sober.

Though no one under 21 can legally possess or consume alcohol in Missouri, youth make up a significant proportion of drunk drivers causing crashes. From 2009-2011, 94 people were killed and 368 seriously injured crashes involving underage, drunk drivers.

Missouri has a Zero Tolerance Law. Drivers who are under 21 and caught driving with even a trace of alcohol in their systems have their license suspended. Minors in possession can lose scholarships and jobs.

Punishments can include jail time or being sentenced to use ignition interlocks. Insurance rates go up. Other financial hits include attorney fees and court costs. When family and friends find out, violators can also face tremendous personal embarrassment and humiliation.

Tell the young adults you know that special units will be out looking for drunk drivers. Ask them to program your number into their phone and to call you or another sober person to pick them up if they or their driver is in no condition to drive - no questions asked. Give them good options to protect their bright futures...or to have a future at all.