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Sober Prom and Graduation Campaign

 

Student Citizen

DWI is more than...

Guidelines for Parents of Teenagers Attending a Party

Hosting a Party

Mother gets 30 Days for Buying Teens Beer

Parents Guide to Teenage Parties

Underage Drinking and Driving Privileges

 

Dear Parent,

Prom and graduation season is almost upon us.

 

Congratulations on a job well done! We at the Middlesex County Prosecutor's
Office hope that you and your family enjoy this very important event in your lives.

 

However, it is during this time of celebration that we must be especially
careful. Our children are under enormous peer pressure to drink. The pressure on
parents to allow drinking during this season nearly equals the peer pressure placed
on our children. It is important for us to do everything in our power to combat this
peer pressure and discourage underage drinking.

 

When our children drink and drive, they are at risk to kill or seriously injure
themselves and others. This simple, but chilling fact, requires no further
explanation. Hopefully, it is all the motivation that we need to ensure that we, as
parents, act responsibly when addressing the issue of alcohol use during prom and
graduation season.

 

However, drinking and driving can destroy their lives in other ways as well.
Few parents realize the virtual certainty that their child will be sent to jail if he or she
kills someone in an alcohol related crash. A drunk driver who kills another person
must serve at least three years in State Prison without the possibility of parole
regardless of his or her age or good character. (Most will serve considerably more
than three years in jail). Over the last 19 years, every drunk driver who has killed
someone in Middlesex County has gone to jail. During that time period, 95% of all
intoxicated drivers who have seriously injured innocent persons in this County have
been incarcerated. These statistics include children who were in their late teens.
The message is clear and simple - drunk drivers who kill or seriously injure others
are going to be jailed without exception. It is the duty of every parent to ensure that
this does not happen to their child.

 

Even a simple drunk driving arrest which is not related to a car accident will
cost a first offender a minimum of $23,980.00 in fines, surcharges, legal fees,
increased insurance premiums, etc. as well as the loss of his or her driver's license
for at least seven months and possibly even a year. Most of us would agree that this
is hardly the way that we would want our children to begin their adult lives.

 

It is important for parents to understand that they too may suffer legal
consequences that result from underage drinking. Anyone who provides alcohol to a
person who is not of legal age is guilty of a crime. More importantly, if the underage
drinker then becomes involved in a fatal or serious motor vehicle collision, the parent
who provided the alcohol can be sued and held liable for enormous damages. The
same holds true even when the parents do not supply the alcohol, but rather provide
the environment or safe haven in which persons under the age of 21 are permitted
to drink. In other words, parents who purposely, knowingly, or negligently allow
underage drinking in their homes can be successfully sued even if they did not
 furnish the alcohol.

 

These are but a few of the tragic consequences that await underage drinkers
and their parents. Our goal is to help you recognize and understand these
consequences so that you can protect your children, as well as yourself. More
importantly, by demanding an alcohol-free prom and graduation season, we can
ensure that our children will arrive home safely.

 

I am also asking you to speak to your children about the perils of driving
while fatigued. Please understand that driving while fatigued is as dangerous as
drunk or drugged driving. It has long been popular for students to drive down to the
shore immediately following their prom and graduation celebrations, despite the fact
that they are tired from having been awake for 24 or more hours. We must do
everything in our power to discourage this dangerous tradition. In addition, under a
new law, drivers who fall asleep at the wheel and cause fatal accidents may now be
prosecuted for vehicular homicide. It is imperative that we not allow our young
drivers to succumb to driver fatigue and become either a fatal accident statistic or a
criminal defendant.
 

 

BRUCE J. KAPLAN

Middlesex County Prosecutor

 

 

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