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by Abigail Van Buren

On This Day, as on Every Day, Don't Tolerate Drunk Driving

DEAR ABBY: I just finished reading "Still Shaking's" letter to you about drunk driving. I am a 20-year-old college student. I hope you will print my letter as well, because teens and young adults can't hear this enough: DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE. YOU ARE NOT INVINCIBLE.

Although I'm ashamed to admit it, I have been a passenger in a car with a drunk driver. Never again. Sometimes it takes hearing a horror story to make an impression on young people, so here goes:

My best childhood friend drove home drunk from a party last Saturday night. She had a 17-year-old passenger with her. My friend crashed into two utility poles three blocks from her house. Her passenger was killed. At 20 years of age, my bright and funny friend is facing charges of manslaughter drunk driving. Worse, she must face the grief she has inflicted on the girl's family and live with the guilt of killing her friend long past any prison time she may serve.

Please, to my peers: As that lucky girl, "Still Shaking," begged you before, don't drive drunk, AND DON'T GET INTO A CAR WITH A DRUNK DRIVER. "Only one time" can kill you. "It's just down the street" can kill you. Or worse, it may kill a friend. -- SHOCKED AND SOBERED, AUSTIN, TEXAS

DEAR SHOCKED AND SOBERED: Your letter is timely because today is a holiday when even those who rarely drink are sometimes tempted or coerced into "having a little nip" -- and maybe two or three -- to welcome the new year and toast the passing of the last one. It's also an occasion when people who are not used to drinking tend to binge. The result is intoxicated drivers on the road -- a menace to themselves and everyone around them. I hope that this year, party-goers of every age will pay attention to your important warning. Drunk driving is not limited only to younger people.