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Keeping Graduation Parties Safe And Fun

May 25, 2017 | Press Releases

Garrett County proms are over for this year, but graduations and the multitude of parties surrounding them have started. Safety is the key, whether hosting or attending a party.

Graduating is a big accomplishment, but this year’s high school graduates are not considered adults where alcohol is concerned. Nationally, the minimum drinking age is 21, so it is illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to purchase or publicly possess alcoholic beverages.

NHTSA reports that more than 60% of all alcohol related traffic fatalities during prom and graduation season nationwide involve young people between the ages of 15 – 20 years. Impaired driving can lead to a host of consequences, including injury, death, loss of scholarships, incarceration, suspension or revocation of one’s license, and fines.

But safety behind the wheel is not the only consideration when it comes to teens and alcohol. Studies show that alcohol has a different effect on the adolescent’s brain than on the adult brain, because the brain is not fully developed until about age 24. Alcohol can cause alterations in the structure and function of the developing brain, which may have consequences reaching far beyond adolescence.

Being arrested is probably not on the graduate’s wish list, or on that of their parents who may be hosting a party, but that’s what might happen if alcohol is available to underage partygoers.  In Maryland, furnishing alcohol to minors can lead to a fine of up to $2,500 for the first offense, and can be double that for each additional offense.

It’s up to all of us to help this year’s graduates start off this new phase of their life on the right foot. If your teen is attending a party follow these tips: insist on knowing the details of where your teens are going; set firm check-in times; offer to pick them up, no questions asked.

Or better yet, host a safe, alcohol-free graduation party following these rules: refuse to supply alcohol to teens or allow drinking anywhere on your property; be at home when your teen has a party; make sure your teen’s friends do not bring alcohol into your home; and report underage drinking.

Graduation is a time for celebration, but before the party, talk to your teen about the dangers of alcohol. If you have been unclear or have been sending mixed messages about alcohol, now is the time to take a stand against underage drinking. Your child’s life may depend on it. Visit drugfreegarrettcounty.org for more information about the dangers of underage drinking.

By Diane Lee, Public Information Officer, Garrett County Health Department

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