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Graduates, celebrate sanely
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The first week of June marks the beginning of summer vacation for most students in this area. It is a welcomed break from the challenges of school, the weather beckons for outdoor activities and it is also a time for parties and other forms of celebration.

Graduating high school seniors are all starting a new chapter of their lives, as leaving high school represents a major transition from a juvenile existence to that of entering full-fledged adulthood. It is an exciting time; one that causes some to throw caution to the wind. And during this brief transitional interlude, it is also a time when some kids permanently destroy their lives by partying too hard or getting involved in DUI collisions. It is nothing new - most all graduating seniors feel a sense of exuberance and the urge to let loose "one last time." The number of young people who end up dead, injured or permanently crippled as a result of post-graduation partying is both significant and very sad. At the same time, it is also very avoidable.

To safely survive the graduation period, the best starting point is mindset. By simply knowing about these dangers and intending to avoid them will make a big difference. Keep in mind that the DUI laws are now more restrictive than they have ever been. Persons under 21 years of age are subject to arrest for DUI after consuming any amount of alcohol. This "zero tolerance" law states that if you're under the age of 21, and have alcohol in your system, no matter how small the amount, you will be arrested for drinking and driving. Aside from the obvious dangers that you pose to yourself, your passengers, and those sharing the road with you by driving under the influence; a DUI arrest will cost thousands of dollars, can result in losing your license, and affect your eligibility for employment opportunities that require clean driving records. This is not the way any graduating senior should begin their adulthood.

Although graduates may not feel any different, once they are out of high school and 18 years old, they are adults in the eyes of the law. This means that the consequences for their actions will be much harsher and what they do now may have implications that could affect the rest of their lives. This is a time to grow up, start taking life more seriously, and realize that they are in the real world now.

Historically, the police department has seen increased incidences of parties, disturbances, under-age drinking, and DUI's during this time of year. As a result, staffing levels will be adjusted accordingly and officers will be on high alert for these types of issues that affect the safety of our community. I hope the graduating class of 2009 enjoys their summer safely and wish them the best as they begin this new chapter of their lives.