Drugs and alcohol kill, and to help Utah teenagers get the message, Rep. Kim Burningham has pre-filed a bill that would suspend the drivers licenses of minors arrested on drug or alcohol offenses, regardless of whether those offenses involved automobiles.

This is not a new idea. Similar bills have had good support in the Legislature the past two years, but how to pay for administration costs of the law has prompted lawmakers to defeat it.A better budget picture in 1989 has Rep. Burningham optimistic the bill can be passed. Certainly the case for it is convincing.

Few things are as important to a teenager as his or her driving privileges. If the threatened loss of those privileges is tied to illicit use of alcohol and drugs, it could help teach the teenager a valuable life-long lesson: There are consequences to every action.

Oregon has had a similar law since 1983 and has reported significant declines in juvenile drug and alcohol offenses. And there are fewer drugs and less alcohol around the schools.

If the proposed new law deters even a few teenagers from experimenting with drugs and alcohol, the measure could help avoid some serious costs to society in the long run - costs much greater than the price of this bill.