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For Release:  April 28, 2015 – Jamie Dukes, Office of Communications – 405/271-5601

Safe Driving is Encouraged During Prom and Graduation Season

Spring has sprung, and prom and graduation season is underway. With each passing year prom preparations become more elaborate. The “promposals,” the dresses, the tuxes and the music of 10 years ago are nothing like what we see today. Despite all the changes that have taken place in the world of proms, pomp and circumstance, the problem of underage drinking remains.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that a third of all alcohol-related crash fatalities of youths under age 21 occur during prom and graduation season (April-June). Prom and graduation are the most anticipated milestones in a high school student’s career. Unfortunately, many teens choose to celebrate these milestones by drinking - often to excess. The area of the brain responsible for decision-making is not fully developed in teenagers, and alcohol greatly diminishes their ability to make good decisions. Drinking on prom or graduation night leads to extremely poor decisions that often result in tragedy. Prom and graduation night tragedies can be prevented by responsible parents and adults who refuse to provide alcohol to minors. 

Over half of teens who drink say they are supplied with alcohol by a parent or a friend’s parent. Many parents are under the false impression that allowing teens to drink under their supervision is a good alternative to them going out and drinking somewhere else. In truth, serious negative consequences still result, including risk of alcohol-related injury for teens and legal liabilities for parents. Oklahoma’s social host law addresses this issue. Anyone, adult or minor, who provides a location (house, hotel room, etc.) for youth under 21 to drink can be fined up to $500. Fines increase with each offense, eventually leading to a felony. Even if they are not present or aware of the party, the owner or renter of the property (the “social host”) is still responsible. If a youth under 21 is injured or killed in connection with the gathering, the “social host” is charged with a felony punishable by a minimum of five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health Injury Prevention Service offers the following tips to keep your teen safe on prom and graduation night:

  • Talk to your teen about the dangers of impaired driving and prom/graduation night
  • Have a plan in place for your teen to secure a safe ride home should they, or the person they ride with, become unable to drive safely due to drug or alcohol impairment
  • Set rules regarding prom/graduation night activities as well as consequences for breaking the rules
  • Set a curfew for the night, and stay up to make sure they safely arrive home. Do not rent teens hotel rooms, condos, etc. for prom/graduation night
  • NEVER supply teens with alcohol or allow them to consume it on your property
  • Coordinate with other parents to verify your teens’ itinerary for the night
  • Host or plan an adult-supervised drug/alcohol-free after-party

For more injury prevention information, visit the OSDH Injury Prevention Service’s website at www.ips.ok.gov.  

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