Our Opinion: Graduates can give themselves the best gift

Graduation is a time of transition.

High school and college students this month are concluding a phase of their education and preparing to embark on varying paths.

Some will enjoy a summer vacation before resuming their education; some will search for jobs or begin careers; many will be leaving home for the first time.

Graduation is time when young people experience both elation and trepidation. It also may be a time when they consume alcohol, sometimes in excess.

And, when intoxication is mixed with driving, celebration may quickly turn to tragedy.

The Jefferson City Police Department has joined with other law enforcement agencies this month to crack down on drunk driving.

The department reminds young drivers that Missouri has a Zero Tolerance Law, which means people under age 21 who are caught driving with even a trace of alcohol in their systems may have their licenses suspended.

Loss of driving privileges, however, is only one of many possible consequences. Drunk drivers also face higher insurance rates, attorney fees, court costs, paying for ignition interlock devices, jail time and potential loss of a job or job prospects.

And, of course, other possibilities include causing or suffering injuries or death.

Between 2010-12, 77 people were killed and 363 seriously injured in Missouri roadway crashes involving an impaired driver under the age of 21.

The purpose of the Zero Tolerance Law is prevention, not punishment.

We congratulate area graduates for their academic achievements and encourage them to give themselves the best possible present – a future.

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