Crestview High School students assembling in the football stadium’s bleachers on Friday may not have anticipated the rude awakening they would receive during a mock DUI crash.
When passengers in the drunken driver’s vehicle received minor injuries, and police arrested the driver, the cautionary tale seemed predictable enough: If you break the law, there are consequences.
But the high school’s leadership program members were presenting a play, and this just showed a worst-case scenario, right?
Not exactly. Granted, students portrayed a casualty, complete with a hearse collecting the body. But eventually, the drama ended and two women delivered a reality check that hit closer to home. Lindy Bowman and Amy Jamieson, north Okaloosa mothers, each recalled the day their children died from DUI-related incidents.
It’s a gritty way to send a message.
It’s also a relatively new way of handling the situation.
Crestview High started the program three years ago, when the responsibility of who would bring the don’t-drink-and-drive message to students was shifting hands.
Not long ago, Mothers Against Drink Driving and Students Against Destructive Decisions, among other advocacy groups, exclusively educated the public about drunken driving’s dangers.
When law enforcement agencies realized that substance abuse prevention was more cost effective than enforcement, they implemented school programs that included victim impact panels, mock crashes and mock trials, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A little education goes a long way, these agencies figured, and their hypothesis seems accurate if last weekend’s prom is an indication.
Student drunken driving typically peaks during prom and graduation season, when peer pressure is prevalent and parties are rampant, according to the administration.
However, the Florida Highway Patrol, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and the Crestview Police Department all said that Crestview’s prom was DUI-free.
That’s beneficial for everyone’s safety and for the economy.
A DUI first conviction brings a $500 to $1,000 fine, along with 50 hours’ community service, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
And that’s only if you hurt no one. Cause an injury or a death, and the penalty could be $10,000, not including attorneys’ fees, insurance premium spikes, medical bills and related charges. And possible jail time.
Let’s commend stepped-up education efforts, and perhaps more important, let’s recognize CHS students’ good conduct. After all, peer pressure got its name for a reason.
Let’s focus on the coming months, particularly a graduation ceremony that will celebrate students’ academic and personal achievements as they reach the end of their high school careers.
And let’s anticipate a similarly uneventful weekend.
Email Crestview News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni, firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet him @cnbeditor.