Parents Beware: The Perils of Prom Season

May 15, 2013 2:32 pm0 commentsViews: 49
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Springtime brings warm temperatures, beauty, and a lightness of the heart. It is also the onset of prom season —a rite of passage for many high schoolers, one of those wonderful memory-making life events deserving of photos, laughter, and camaraderie with friends and classmates.
Parents want their teens to have a good time— gowns, accessories, tuxes and tickets don’t come cheap. But please remember to talk with your children about being safe and making good choices, not only the night of the prom but during the following week, when many students go away, and during the upcoming summer.

xLYFT Youth Photo in UW FrameI am a parent of three and honestly didn’t realize that one mistake can result in a record that never disappears in this digital age. I spoke with Magisterial District Judge Jan Vislosky, who offered the following information:

“A person under the age of 21 commits a summary offense if he/she attempts to, or actually purchases, consumes, possesses or knowingly transports liquor, malt or brewed beverages.  Penalties in PA range from a fine from $25 to $300 plus court costs of about $125 and a 90-day driver’s license suspension for a first offense, to a fine of between $25 and $500 plus court costs and up to a two-year license suspension for a third offense.”

Myth #1:  My record will disappear when I turn 18.  PennDOT will keep records of your violations and suspensions, and they will be everywhere.  They will turn up when you are applying for a job or wherever you least expect they will.

Myth #2:  I can hang out with my friends as long as I don’t drink. In PA, “constructive possession” means if you are close enough to have control over something, you can be charged with possessing it— including beer, drugs, or any illegal substance.  If you are there, you can be charged.  It’s up to the judge to decide your guilt.

Myth #3:  Other than a fine and some suspension, my record won’t hurt me.  Colleges check records of applicants and may reject them because they don’t want students prone to getting into trouble, and may revoke scholarships as well.

Myth #4:  No problem.  I’m not going to college, I’m getting a job.  Employers check criminal histories for theft, drinking and drug violations.  They want employees who are on time, and aren’t hung over or a risk for theft to get money for drugs.  Many people apply for the same jobs; employers don’t have to take risks.

Myth #5:  I’m not drunk.  I can drive.  Too many people have said this and were arrested before they made it home.  Many are killed or injured each year— or worse, they kill someone else.  DUI laws are strict.  If you are charged with DUI and you are under 21, you will answer for both.  Worse is the knowledge that you may have killed an innocent person.

Myth #6:  If I make a mistake, it’s only one time.  This was true when your parents were young, but not now.  Kids need to be diligent all the time about dangers around them and situations that could get them in trouble.  One mistake could haunt you for a long time.

Myth #7:  Nothing is going to happen to me.  Watch the news; read the newspaper.  Look at the memorials along the road and the broken heart DUI signs where people died.  Many of them said the same thing.

Lower Makefield Police Chief Kenneth Coluzzi urges parents and neighbors to be vigilant, especially during prom season.  “Parents need to talk with their kids and provide safe locations for after the prom.  Neighbors should be on the lookout for parties, especially those without adult supervision.”

Judge Vislosky urges anyone under age 21 to not drink.  PERIOD.  It can affect their family, their friends, their driver’s license and their future.

Some call the Pennsbury Prom “the best Prom in America.”  Volunteers from Pennsbury LYFT, a program of the United Way of Bucks County, are asking students when they purchase their prom tickets to sign a voluntary pledge:  “I will not use alcohol or other drugs on Prom night because I care about my friends, my family, and myself.”  Parents, please talk with your teens so that this night will be one of wonderful memories which will lead these young people into the next chapter of their lives.

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