April 4, 2013  The following is a Press Release from  Cpl Robert L Haines Jr. Mifflin County Regional Police Department and the Mifflin County School District. The information contained herein is an article written by Cpl Haines with information gathered from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, SADD, The Center for Disease control  and  The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Alcohol Education

                        Preventing the Perils of Prom and Graduation Underage Drinking

It’s that time of year—the season for prom and graduation, rites of passage for millions of teens across the country. It’s also time to get parents, educators, students, and local communities on board and prepared to prevent underage drinking. For many teenagers, May only means one thing – the start of prom season!  Now more than ever is the time to candidly talk to your teens about the dangers of underage drinking which is often so prevalent during prom time and graduation.  

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), underage drinking is very prevalent among teens. Alcohol is their drug of choice. Almost three-fourths of teenagers reported drinking alcohol by the end of 12th grade. According to a national survey from the U.S. Department of Justice, 90% of teens binge drink when they consume alcohol. Underage drinkers will drink less frequently than adults but consume more alcoholic drinks each time they drink. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) reports that about 30,000 students a year are seen in emergency rooms for alcohol overdose, a common problem associated with underage binge drinking. 

Another big risk of drinking is impaired driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety.

Administration (NHTSA) 11,000 people a year die in alcohol related car crashes. That is about 1 person every 48 minutes. Renting a limo for your teens during prom doesn’t solve this problem. In fact, it seems complicit and might send the message that you are condoning their drinking. Parents sometimes do actually contribute to this problem by both looking the other way, seeing it as a rite of passage or even worse, supplying alcohol during parties. The same NIAAA survey above found that over 40% of underage drinkers report they got their alcohol from an adult.  Serving alcohol to minors or driving under the influence of alcohol—at any age—are serious crimes that cause injury and death. In 2010, 31% of the driver deaths in the 16-20 year olds age group were drinking drivers.  

Alcohol-related crashes are totally preventable. Every year in Pennsylvania these senseless tragedies take the lives of hundreds of people and injure thousands more. In 2010, four hundred fifty-nine (459) people were killed and almost nine thousand five hundred (9,500) were injured in Pennsylvania due to alcohol-related crashes. 72% of the drinking drivers in crashes were male. ¹ Young drivers are less likely than adults to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do. Young male drivers (16 to 20 years old) with BACs between .05% and .08% are 17 times more likely to be killed in single vehicle crashes than sober teenage male drivers. Young female drivers of  the same age with the same BACs are 7 times more likely to be  killed in single vehicle crashes than their sober counterparts , Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 2010

Driving is not the only danger from underage drinking. There are other serious risks to consider related to teen drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high school students who drink were more likely to participate in risky sexual activity resulting in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. They were more likely to be victims of physical and sexual assault as well as being at higher risk for suicides and homicides. Alcohol can potentially cause life-long problems and interfere with normal physical development of the adolescent brain as well as disrupt normal physical and sexual development. There is also the potential become dependent on alcohol to then go on to use and abuse other drugs.

As a Law enforcement Officer and parent, I ask you to talk to your kids about underage drinking. Tell them you are worried about their safety. Be frank about the statistics and facts listed in this article. Let them know drinking too much at once, especially in first time drinkers, can lead to high blood-alcohol levels that can cause unconsciousness and death. Provide them with strategies on how to navigate their peer pressure and resist getting into vehicles of drunken friends. Tell them you will be there to get them no questions asked if they’re in a situation that becomes dangerous or uncomfortable. Let them know that their prom and graduation  should be something they remember always – but for the right reason.

 

Here are some helpful hints: 

Be a Positive Role Model.

Everyone wants their children to grow up to become responsible adults, so be sure to set a good example for your kids. If you drink alcohol as soon as you come home from work, drive after you have been drinking, or take medications with alcohol, you can expect your teenager to do the same.

Talk With Your Teenagers About Alcohol

This means talk with your teenager not only about alcohol and the law, but also how alcohol affects a teenager’s body. Share with your teenager the information that they need to know to abide by the laws and make responsible decisions. Explain to your son or daughter how alcohol impacts the developing mind and why they should wait until they are 21 to decide whether or not to drink alcohol.

Set and Enforce Guidelines

Make sure that your teenager knows and understands your family’s rules. Establish limits and consequences, and stick to them. Trust your decision—it is important that your teenager knows that you will be awake and waiting to greet them when they come home.

Be Active in Your Teenager’s Life

Plan alcohol-free events and parties with your teen. Showing that you have an interest in your son or daughter’s  life shows that you care. If planning a party, make sure that it is understood that you will be home, checking in on the party, and will be available if there is any problem.

Get to Know the Other Parents

Know your son or daughter’s friends and get to know their parents. Don’t be afraid to call the other parents to ensure they are also responsible and are not providing alcohol or creating an environment in which underage drinking could occur.

How big is the underage drinking problem?  Alcohol is the drug of choice for 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, with 45% of 12th graders reporting using  alcohol in the past 30 days. Pennsylvania students experiment with alcohol at a higher rate than  do students across the country.

 Why is alcohol a problem for teens?  Underage drinking is the leading   contributor to death from injuries, which is the leading cause of death  for those under the age of 21. Other adverse consequences of underage drinking include, risky sexual behavior, poor academic  performance, and an increased risk of physical and sexual assaults. 

Why is drinking alcohol more of  a problem for kids than adults?  Younger drinkers are more likely to develop addiction or drinking problems later. People who began drinking before age 15 were four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who began  drinking at age 21.

Keeping Teens Safe and Sober

Below are resources we want to share with you and ways to get others involved to influence teens’ decision not to drink alcohol:

Students Against Destructive Decisions’ (SADD’s) mission is “To provide students with the best prevention tools possible to deal with the issues of underage drinking, other drug use, risky and impaired driving, and other destructive decisions.” SADD’s Prom Tool Kit http://www.sadd.org/campaign/taiprom.htm

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) A Guide to Safe and Sober Event Planning can help teenagers take the lead in planning alcohol-free celebrations. http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/alcohol/PartiesRock/section1.html

Know the Law

Pennsylvania Crimes Code Title 18 Section 6308 a

63                    Purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages.

(a)  Offense defined.--A person commits a summary offense if he, being less than 21 years of age, attempts to purchase, purchases, consumes, possesses or knowingly and intentionally transports any liquor or malt or brewed beverages, as defined in section 6310.6 (relating to definitions). For the purposes of this section, it shall not be a defense that the liquor or malt or brewed beverage was consumed in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction where the citation for underage drinking was issued.

(b)  Penalty.--In addition to the penalty imposed pursuant to section 6310.4 (relating to restriction of operating privileges), a person convicted of violating subsection (a) may be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $500 for the first violation and not more than $1,000 for the second and each subsequent violation.

Your low BAC will not matter. Any amount of alcohol in your system is enough for an underage drinking citation.

You will get a max fine of up to $300 (up to judge).

You will pay court costs (around $120).

You will get a license suspension of 90 days.

Your low BAC will not matter. Any amount of alcohol in your system is enough for an underage drinking citation.

You will get a max fine of up to $300 (up to judge).

You will pay court costs (around $120).

You will get a license suspension of 90 days.

That is for FIRST offense.

Second offenses or more are fine up to $500.

Second offenses are 1 year license suspension.

Third of greater offense 2 years suspension.

It’s a crime to sell or give alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21—even your own kids. Penalties include a fine of $1,000 – $2,500 for the first violation, $2,500 for each subsequent violation, per person being served and up to a year in jail. If you have 10 kids at your home that are underage drinking you could be looking at $25,000. In fines

6310.1

63                        Selling or furnishing liquor or malt or brewed beverages to minors.

(a)  Offense defined.--Except as provided in subsection (b), a person commits a misdemeanor of the third degree if he intentionally and knowingly sells or intentionally and knowingly furnishes, or purchases with the intent to sell or furnish, any liquor or malt or brewed beverages to a person who is less than 21 years of age.

(b)  Exceptions.--The provisions of this section shall not apply to any religious service or ceremony which may be conducted in a private home or a place of worship where the amount of wine served does not exceed the amount reasonably, customarily and traditionally required as an integral part of the service or ceremony.

(c)  Minimum penalty.--In addition to any other penalty imposed pursuant to this title or other statute, a person who is convicted of violating subsection (a) shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $1,000 for the first violation and a fine of $2,500 for each subsequent violation. There shall be no authority in any court to impose on an offender any lesser sentence than the minimum sentence mandated by this subsection. No court shall have the authority to suspend any sentence as defined in this section. Nothing in this section shall prevent the sentencing court from imposing a sentence greater than the minimum sentence mandated in this subsection. In no case shall the sentence exceed the maximum sentence prescribed by law.

18c6310.1v

(Mar. 25, 1988, P.L.262, No.31, eff. 60 days)

Students from Mifflin  County High School have been placing over 500 posters and signs at strategic locations in the Jr and Sr high schools. These  public service announcements  which have been provided by The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board promote positive  outcomes for making good decisions about alcohol use and also talk about the  consequences of breaking the law.  Educational pamphlets from the LCB will also be handed out at both schools a week prior to the prom and week prior to graduation.

Local Law enforcement will be working together over the prom and graduation season to help prevent accidents and enforce underage drinking events.

The 1-888-UNDER-21 Hotline is administered in partnership with the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention with funding from the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program, Pennsylvanians Against Underage Drinking, PA DUI Association, and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.