Graduation season is in full swing at area high schools, colleges and universities. That means graduation parties are in full swing, too. Our graduates have every reason to celebrate. They have earned our respect and our praise with their diplomas. But too often, the excitement of a graduation party is dashed by a tragic car accident or other incident involving our teens.
For graduates, the celebratory mood plus the feeling of being in a new, older stage of life ignites a dangerous temptation to engage in underage drinking at graduation parties. But the risk is too high for giving in to that temptation. First of all, there is the risk of death or severe injury. The U.S. Surgeon General reports that approximately 5,000 youth under 21 die each year due to alcohol-related crashes. Then, there are legal consequences. A new state law which went into effect this year imposes stiffer penalties on underage drinking, increasing the maximum fine for someone under age 18 cited for drinking from $300 to $500, with a maximum $1,000 penalty on a second offense. In Pennsylvania, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 21.
Avoiding these risks doesn’t mean the party is over. If teens, with the help of their parents, make a firm decision to celebrate safely, everyone can still enjoy themselves. Teens should let their parents in on their party plans, such as where they are going and who they’ll be with. They should always have a fully charged cell phone with them, and have extra money for a cab, if necessary.
Once they are on their way, partygoers should never leave their food or beverages unattended. They should always wear a seatbelt and NEVER drink or use drugs and drive or get in a vehicle with someone else who has. Finally, they should call 911 if anyone in their group shows signs of an alcohol or drug overdose.
Parents should work with their children to ensure safety. They should know who will be transporting their children, and offer to pick them up from the party if they feel unsafe.
If they are throwing a graduation party, they should set ground rules regarding alcohol and drug use on their property. Parents should be aware that, if something happens to any teen and alcohol is involved, they will be held responsible. They should greet all guests and look for large bags that might be used to smuggle in alcohol. All bags should be placed in a nearby room where they can be monitored. In addition to not being allowed to drink alcohol at the party, teens should not be allowed to leave the party and return. No uninvited guests should be welcome, especially those who obviously have been drinking alcohol or using other drugs before their arrival.
With these negatives out of the way, the celebration can go on and everyone can focus on the happy occasion that brought them together in the first place – the great achievement of the graduate. With great pride, we at Powell Law wish our local graduates congratulations on a job well done.
Established in 1906, Powell Law is Northeastern Pennsylvania’s oldest personal injury law firm. Our PA personal injury lawyers have successfully represented thousands of clients in serious personal injury cases, including PA car accidents, tractor-trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, PA medical malpractice, PA worker’s comp, slip and fall, product-related injuries and Social Security disability claims. Our PA criminal defense attorneys represent defendants in all types of summary, misdemeanor and felony cases ranging from drunk driving cases to major crimes in both state and federal courts. Powell Law has offices in Scranton, Stroudsburg, Taylor and Moscow. Call us toll free at 800-290-7707.