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New program unveiled to stop underage drinking and driving

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – The North Dakota Highway Patrol has unveiled a new program designed to help cut down on the number of under-age drinkers who drive.

Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Jim Hughes says, "About 90 percent of our problems with drinking would go away if people would not get in a car and drive after they've been drinking."

Hughes also says more than six-in-ten of the traffic fatalities invoving drivers between 14 and 20 are due to drinking and driving. So, the Patrol has unveiled "My Choice to Live." Under it, both parents and children sign a commitment card. The student promises to call the parents for a ride when he or she has had too much to drink, while the parents promise to pick up the student with no questions asked at the time.

North Dakota First Lady Mikey Hoeven says this is a good way to open up the dialogue on drinking and driving between parents and children.

"Studies have proven over and over that parents are the single most important influence in the decisions that their children are making. 'Parent Power' is the most under-utilitized force in the battle against underage drinking."

Cards will be given out at both the junior and senior high levels.