Michigan police remind graduates to stay sober behind the wheel

“Everyone thinks that it couldn’t happen to them, but then it does.”
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 9:07 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - High school students across Mid-Michigan are gearing up for graduation. While it’s an exciting time for students and their families, police and safety leaders are hoping warnings will keep students from getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

Ashley Taylor lost her sister to underage drinking and driving in 2022.

“She was a passenger in a vehicle, and the driver was drinking. He was 18,” Taylor said. “Celebrate without alcohol. It’s still a big accomplishment you graduated.”

Taylor now uses this tragedy to warn others about the dangers of underage drinking, especially during graduation season.

St. Johns High School seniors celebrated their graduation Thursday night.

“Students have to learn to take care of themselves,” said St. Johns High School principal Mark Dobson. “For many of them, this is their last three months at home.”

Once they leave their seats after graduation, there are some considerations to take when out celebrating.

“If you’re drinking, don’t drive. Do not get behind the wheel,” said Michigan State Police Lr. Rene Gonzalez.

The period from Memorial Day to Labor Day is one of the deadliest stretches for teen drivers.

“The kids are out of school. They’re out all hours of the day and night because they don’t have school, so there’s an increase in them driving a lot more, their speed, distracted driving, drinking, and they’re going to have a lot more kids in the car with them too,” Gonzalez said.

Although underage drinking is illegal, Gonzalez recognizes it’s still something that happens.

“Although we don’t condone it and we don’t want kids to do it, you are going to have some underage drinking at these parties,” Gonzalez said.

Graduation is a huge milestone that you don’t want to ruin by making a bad decision.

“Everyone thinks that it couldn’t happen to them, but then it does,” Taylor said.

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