Friday, April 25, 2014

Celebrations and Safety

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” 
 Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when you see teens dressed in tuxedos and elegant dresses at your local Applebee’s and hear high school bands playing “Pomp and Circumstance” which will remain in your head for the following week. The season of emotional parents, embarrassed teens, and so many pictures your camera is likely to call in the extra help of your cell phone.

Prom and Graduation are major events in the lives of the American teen and their family. While the valedictorian is likely to quote the Dr. Seuss classic “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” It is up to you to make sure that the places your teen will go won’t end on those momentous nights.

Talking to teens can at times seem like asking for an argument. I won’t say that you shouldn't expect the classic exaggerated eye roll, or even the annoyed “I know!” over and over as a response. Regardless of these inevitable reactions it is important to talk with your teen about safety.

Tips For Parents 
  • Know and discuss the school code of conduct before the prom with your student. 
  • Know who your daughter or son is attending the prom with and discuss the events for pre and post prom parties with other parents. 
  • Talk with your student about the dangers of club drugs, warning signs and who to notify for assistance. 
  • Discuss responses  he or she can use to get out of uncomfortable situations. (e.g., offered alcohol, intoxicated driver, unwanted sexual advances, etc.) 
  • Discuss guidelines and a curfew. Discuss the consequences of violating these rules. 
  • Discuss travel plans, use a reputable limousine service that will not allow a person to bring, serve or introduce alcohol into the vehicle. 
  • Know who is driving to the prom and who will be a passenger. Limit the number of passengers to increase safety and reduce driver distractions. 
  • Know the location of post prom parties and who is sponsoring them. 
  • Talk to your teenager about the serious dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. 
Remember that Missouri has a Zero Tolerance Law.  If you are under 21, your license will be suspended if you’re caught driving with even a trace of alcohol in your system.

Consider some of the consequences if you choose to drive impaired:

  • If you cause a fatal crash while intoxicated, you can be charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony resulting in up to seven years of prison time, a $5,000 fine or both. 
  • Your license can be suspended for 90 days on your first conviction. You could be fined up to $500 and spend up to 6 months in jail.
  • A second conviction results in a yearlong revocation of your license. You could be fined up to $1,000 and spend up to one year in jail. 
  • Any person guilty of a second or subsequent intoxication-related traffic offense will be required to install an ignition interlock device on their car before reinstating driving privileges.
  • Minors may additionally be subject to a Minor in Possession citation resulting in license suspension for 90 days for first offense. This is in addition to any suspension resulting from point assessment on an alcohol conviction.
  • If you refuse a sobriety test, you can lose your license on the spot and have your car impounded.

Talk to your teen about the importance of safety. While prom and graduation are momentous occasions in their lives, they are just the start of many more to come over the years. Make sure they know all they need to know so they can go places they will go.

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