Prom & graduation bring risks of underage drinking & DUI

Now that May is here, high school students across West Virginia will be excitedly preparing for two major events: Prom and graduation. Both events give teenagers the chance to feel more like adults while enjoying the relative freedom of youth.

Unfortunately, prom and graduation can also come with some risks - both physical and legal. One of those risks is drunk driving, which seems to spike around this time of year precisely because of these events. Teens who drive drunk after prom or get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking are obviously in danger of a car accident, but also in danger of legal consequences that could impact their future plans.

High school officials in West Virginia and around the country are trying to get the word out that prom and graduation don't have to be celebrated with alcohol. And they are especially stressing the point that if underage drinking occurs, it should not be followed by driving.

Some schools are relying on simple PA announcements to send those messages to students. Others are taking a far more memorable approach. A recent news article discusses an annual event in one Missouri city that involves local police, fire officials, student actors, news crews and a host of others.

It is a staged "docudrama" showing the scene of an alcohol-related crash. It is apparently a live performance with rescue crews trying to free a high school student from a smashed vehicle. Afterward, students listen to a nurse tell about her personal experiences with drunk driving accident victims.

This may all be a little over the top, but the message is an important one. We all want our kids to be safe physically, and we also don't want them to face criminal charges that could jeopardize acceptance into college, scholarships and job opportunities.

If you've got a teen driver who will be going to prom or graduating in the next month, please take some time to discuss responsible choices with them.

Source: Lake Expo, "Prom Shows Students The Effects Of Drunk Driving," Connye Griffin, May 6, 2015

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