As school gets underway, it is natural that students at A&M are going to want to go to parties. It's nice to see friends you haven't seen all summer, football season is about to begin and, hey, sometimes the fact that it's Friday is enough of an excuse to have a drink or two.

But in case you needed a reminder that drinking responsibly is always the best plan, a recent analysis of DUIs and other alcohol-related traffic offenses by the Texas Department of Transportation has found that young adults in our state die in alcohol-related crashes at a much greater rate than do people in other age demographics. Men and women between the ages of 20 and 25 make up only ten percent of the Texas population, but that age group accounts for 24 percent of those who died in alcohol-related crashes in 2010. Clearly, young people are way over-represented among alcohol-related crash victims.

And while your personal safety should always be your main concern, do not forget that a DUI conviction carries with it severe legal penalties and heavy fines, to say nothing of a lot of red tape, hassle and possibly troublesome issues with your drivers' license. If you are attending A&M on a scholarship or have an internship lined up, an alcohol-related offense could also jeopardize those wonderful opportunities (depending on the terms on which they were offered to you).

If you ever get in trouble with an alcohol-related offense, do not just shrug it off and assume that everyone gets one at one time or another. That isn't true, for starters, and that debonair attitude means you could be compromising your rights. College students have bright futures and working with an attorney to fight alcohol-related charges can keep yours looking that way.

Source: The Longview News-Journal, "TXDOT report: Young adults lead nation in DWI fatalities," Aug. 24, 2011.