NO FUTURE WITH ALCOHOL

More than 25 years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed the national 21 minimum legal drinking age law. Since it was signed into law, an estimated 25,000 lives have been saved on the roadways as a result. And, although it is illegal, we still have a problem with underage drinking and impaired driving.

With stricter penalties and increased awareness to the dangerous practice of driving under the influence, a person still dies every 22 minutes in the United States as a result of an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash. Sadly, a disproportionate number of those deaths are people between the ages of 15 to 24. Even more startling, it is estimated that 11% of the alcohol consumed in the United States is done so by people aged 12 to 20 years. Underage drinking is an epidemic in our country – and it is important that we let our children and young adults know that there is simply "no future with alcohol."

During prom and graduation season we have all read too many stories about teens that died due to the deadly combination of alcohol and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 500 students die in alcohol-related traffic accidents during prom and graduation season each year. That is a startling statistic and it is a tragedy that can be prevented.

I remind parents, guardians and mentors to maintain open lines of communication regarding underage drinking – especially as prom and graduation season approaches. Teens that have a strict curfew and a full understanding of their parents expectations are more likely to say NO to alcohol and drugs. Whether it's giving in to peer-pressure or celebrating a good time, there is nothing cute, funny or acceptable about an intoxicated person getting behind the wheel – regardless of age. One night of alcohol-fueled festivities could ruin the rest of your child's life or someone else's.

The Broward Sheriff's Office has always maintained a zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving under the influence. During this prom and graduation season we will step-up enforcement efforts to deter teens from drinking and driving. We will continue to pursue and arrest store clerks and shop owners who knowingly sell alcohol to minors. The men and women of the Broward Sheriff's Office are committed to making sure our community is safe. I do not want to read or hear about another family who suffered the loss of a loved one due to an alcohol-related vehicle accident. Again, it is a tragedy than can be avoided.

As a father of a teenage son, I know the importance of communication. Remind your teens and young adults to be smart, be responsible and be safe!

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