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SENATE APPROVES `NOT A DROP’ BILL TARGETING MINORS

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Take a drink, lose your license.

That's the message senators sent Wednesday to Utah citizens under 21 when they gave final approval to the "Not a Drop" bill that calls for stiff penalties for minors who drink and drive, regardless of how much alcohol they have consumed. The Senate voted unanimously to approve the measure.The bill affects those under age 21 who drink and drive. It allows the suspension of driving privileges for three months for any driver of a vehicle who has a measurable amount of alcohol up to .08 percent (the legal level of intoxication). Teenage drivers at .08 percent or higher would be subjected to the same drunken driving laws as adults. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

In passing the bill, Senators made the measure even tougher than originally drafted, adding a requirement that violators undergo a substance abuse evaluation and complete substance abuse and education programs.

Senators defeated an amendment that would have required 50 hours of community service as part of the punishment.

"For some reason illegal drugs are considered dangerous and alcohol is considered the safe drug," said Sen. Karen Shepherd, D-Salt Lake City. "Teenagers haven't a clue as to how dangerous it is. They haven't a clue as to how easy it is to become an alcoholic. I don't think we could send a stronger message than this one."