REDDING, Calif. -

Sentencing of a convicted DUI offender played out on Shasta High School's center court Tuesday morning.

Students witnessed the real-life offender get hauled off to jail in handcuffs.

The goal was to get teens to make the right decision before getting behind the wheel or in the car with someone who's been drinking.

"Driving under the influence can be very dangerous. It can cost not just lives and injure and maim people," explained Betty Cunningham, executive director of Shasta County Chemical People, the group who helps plan these high school events.

"It was very real. 800 students, and they’re juniors and seniors, and you could hear a pin drop. Every student paying attention and listening to what was said. I think it was very powerful for our kids," said Shasta High School Principal Milan Woollard.

Helping the students see how making a poor, split-second decision when it comes to drinking and driving, can follow them around for the rest of their lives.

The cost of an under 21-year-old, first-time offender getting a DUI is staggering, $22,492 when it’s all said and done. That sky-high number includes bail money, legal fees, fines and the cost of the car being towed. The biggest cost comes from the increased car insurance spanning multiple years down the road.

"To come and be sentenced in front of our kids and let them really see, hey this isn't just something that's being read - this is real life. And these are the consequences that can happen to them,” Woollard said.

Especially with prom season in full-swing and graduation just around the corner, Cunningham reminds students to stay safe.

"Our biggest tragedies in our county have been people who get into the car with someone who is drinking. So part of our message is - please if you need a ride, call somebody. Call a friend, call your parents, call an aunt, an uncle anybody but not somebody who's been drinking," pleaded Cunningham.