Ah, the senior prom – for many, the peak of the high school experience and one of the most memorable nights. Prom season is coming soon, and New Jersey police are preparing. One way they’re doing that is through DWI checkpoints.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Crash Investigations Unit is setting up the checkpoints as part of a program to ensure the safety of high school students during prom and graduation ceremonies. The checkpoints are random and will pop up from now through the end of June.
A word of warning to teens: even if it’s your first offense, a DWI means you could lose your driving privileges for a year or more. Your car could be impounded, making it difficult to get to school or work. You may also face fines, insurance rate increases and legal fees that cost thousands of dollars to resolve. Lastly, you could end up in jail and face lengthy probation afterwards.
Those are just the immediate effects. A potentially devastating aftereffect of a DWI conviction is that you may be required to disclose it on college applications, job applications and even for financial aid requests.
Underage Drinking: A National Concern
Drivers under the age of 21 represent 10 percent of licensed drivers. But they are responsible for 17 percent of fatal alcohol-involved crashes. Every year, approximately 2,000 underage drinkers die every year behind the wheel. Alcohol contributes to at least one-third of all teen auto fatalities.
Why is this? One reason is that underage drinkers tend to binge drink, leading to higher blood alcohol concentration. Another reason is that underage drinkers are less likely to wear seat belts (74 percent of underage DUI drivers in fatal accidents are not wearing seat belts).
According to the CDC, underage drunk driving has decreased 54 percent since 1991. However, teens still drive drunk 2.4 million times every month nationwide. One in 10 high school teen drinks and drives. Young drivers are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when drunk than they are when sober.
If you have a child who is attending prom or graduating soon, make sure to do your part to educate your child about the dangers of drunk driving, and discuss with them alternatives to driving such as ridesharing or public transportation.