On Thursday, April 18, 2013, the following letter was released to parents via HCPSS News. This letter from William J. McMahon, Chief of Police and Renee A. Foose, Ed.D., Superintendent of HCPSS is designed to remind parents to encourage their children to stay safe during prom and graduation season.
With the start of prom and graduation season this weekend, we are reaching out to students and parents to reinforce the legal and safety consequences of underage drinking.
Too often, we have seen this time of celebration turn into a time of tragedy. Criminal charges related to underage drinking can change a person’s life. Even worse, serious injury or death can turn what should be a new beginning into a tragic end.
We want our kids to have a great time and celebrate. We just want them to do it safely and we don’t want to see them get into legal trouble that could have a long-term effect.
Alcohol—Teens should know that buying or possessing alcohol under the age of 21 can result in multiple, serious criminal charges. It may prevent them from being able to have a driver’s license
DUI—A DUI conviction could mean the loss of a license. Young people driving with provisional licenses have to wait 18 months before they are eligible to get a license again.
Parents—Parents and other adults can play a role to help ensure teens’ safety. Please don’t provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, even in your own home. Parents can be charged in these situations. Charges each carry a fine of $2,500 and violators must appear in court. Please don’t take the chance.
Hotel rooms—We are asking parents not to rent rooms for underage parties. The police department is sending letters to hotels and motels in Howard County asking them to strictly enforce their policies of not renting rooms to anyone under 21 years of age. Hotel employees will call police if parents or other adults try to rent rooms for minors.
Police patrols—Howard County patrol officers will be out in increased numbers after proms hoping NOT to find drivers exhibiting signs of impairment. We urge you to remind your kids not to ruin the night by getting a DUI, or much worse. If possible, arrange for rides both ways with a hired driver or parents.
After-prom parties—Each high school is sponsoring an after-prom party with support and funding from the county’s asset forfeiture fund. Please encourage your teens to attend. This is much safer than allowing them to go to an unsupervised party, or one supervised by adults who allow drinking.
We have one goal in mind: keeping our young people safe. We do not want to diminish the fun of the evening or make it harder to celebrate. We just want your kids to come home. Police officers know first-hand the anguish of knocking on a parent’s door to deliver the worst news a mom or dad could ever hear. Educators know the effect this can have on a family and an entire school community.
Please, be our partners in this effort. Help us make sure that every Howard County student is as safe as possible. Thank you.
William J. McMahon, Chief of Police
Renee A. Foose, Ed.D., Superintendent of HCPSS