To police and the legal authorities, I would say: Be consistant. Involve yourself legally, not emotionally. You may feel inclined to consider how your actions may cause hardships for a teen and his/her family; ie, emotional stress, fines, transportation issues, increased insurance, etc. But first, consider the hardships leniency and lack of appropriate consequences may cause to them and OTHERS in a worst-case-scenario. These 'worst-case-scenarios' are becoming all too common.
To parents, I would say: Support the legal system when your children don't obey the laws. Allow them to be accountable. If you feel "lucky" with a reduced charge, think you or your teen got "off easy" with a lenient sentence, or believe you were cheated by an overzealous court system, I would gamble your child will feel, think, and believe similarly. And they learn nothing. Again, be consistant. Support legislature requiring more stringent prerequisites for obtaining a full driver's permit and mandating stiffer penalties for offenders. In a letter I wrote to the judge, I stated that I would endure the hardships and difficulties other parents may encounter in transporting their child where they need to be, a million times over, if it meant I could avoid transporting my son, in a hearst, to his grave.
To young adults and teens, I would say: There is only so much parents, educators, police, and the courts can do. Ultimately, when you are at the wheel of an automobile, you are in control. You can control your destiny. You can control your fate. You control the lives of those who love and care about you most. You even have an element of control over the lives of people you've never met and/or may never meet. That is an awsome responsibility. PLEASE DON'T TAKE IT LIGHTLY. Slow down; life is the journey, not the destination. Turn the cell phone off. Use it for emergencies only or when your car is parked and out of gear. Limit the number and choose your passengers wisely. Don't allow negative people or influences to distract you from what is truly important, whether that be on the road or in day-to-day life. Finally, though alcohol or drugs were NOT involved, there WERE several factors which contributed, directly and indirectly(not the least of which were the choices made by two other young men in another vehicle), to the events which occurred that morning. However, the one thing that could have possibly saved Justin's life in the last few seconds, was his seatbelt. We always tried to make Justin responsible for his actions. Fate held him accountable that day. If this is truly his destiny, my only wish is that he had learned mine before I learned his.
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