Our Opinion: ‘You drink, you drive, you lose’ – a lot

Mixing high school celebrations with underage drinking is hardly a new phenomenon. But it remains a lethal combination.

The Jefferson City Police Department has joined with other Missouri law enforcement agencies to crack down on teen drinking and driving.

The enhanced enforcement will continue during high school prom and graduation season.

The enhanced enforcement — the latest in an ongoing series — reflects a renewed commitment to end an entrenched flirtation with destruction.

Missouri enforces a Zero Tolerance Law that specifies drivers under 21 will have their licenses suspended if caught with even a trace amount of alcohol in their systems.

“Zero tolerance means zero chances,” said Police Chief Roger Schroeder. “You drink, you drive, you lose.”

Although he referenced the loss of a driver’s license, the loss can be much more severe, including losing your life or causing the death of another person.

And, drivers who cause a fatal crash while intoxicated can be charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony punishable by up to seven years behind bars, a $5,000 fine or both.

Drinking and driving carries a host of consequences, which can be:

• Legal, including the aforementioned incarceration, loss of license or court-ordered ignition interlocks.

• Monetary, including attorney fees, fines, court costs, increased insurance rates and vehicle replacement or repairs.

• Medical, including permanent disabilities, temporary injuries and rehabilitation.

• Social, including loss of a job or job prospects, lost time at work and loss of respect.

For too many decades, a misguided rite of passage has linked high school celebrations with getting wasted.

As a result, too many young people have wasted their lives just as they were poised to cross a threshold of transition.

Don’t forfeit your future.

Now is a time to celebrate successes, not mourn losses.

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