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How to Avoid a DUI on Prom Night

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 30, 2011 7:00 AM

Equipped with beer goggles, high school students strolled around a recent event participating in a variety of activities--trying to catch balls, rolling over, and driving a golf cart.

Harlem High School in Georgia was teaching its students what it feels like to drive drunk.

The impetus? With the nearness of graduation and prom, DUI incidents are sure to increase. The school was hoping to give students a sober taste of the dangers associated with driving under the influence.

Drinking is fairly standard during prom season, and parents and schools can't do much to stop it. However, there are a few things that can be done to prevent a prom DUI from ruining a teenager's life.

To begin, a DUI during high school is not something to take lightly. Driving under the influence is sure to land a teenager in front of a judge, and it won't be pretty. If the teen is lucky, there will only be probation and community service. If a teen isn't so lucky and severely injured another person, there could be charges of manslaughter and jail time.

Besides criminal punishment, chances are a prom DUI will have to be reported to colleges, even if already accepted. A scholarship or admission can be lost.

Given the ramifications of a graduation or prom DUI, it's important to set up a plan before the events take place.

If the kind of relationship exists where a teen can call a parent for a ride when drunk, be sure to reiterate the rules of that arrangement. It's better for a parent to punish a teenager as opposed to a court.

If a parental pickup isn't an option, find a designated driver. This may be a friend who doesn't drink, or an agreement amongst a group to share a limo for the night. Even better, pick a post-prom or graduation headquarters and party and sleep at the location.

There are dozens of other plans that can be worked out, so parents talk to your teens, and teens talk to your parents. Because, if you don't, the most important person in your life will become your DUI attorney, who hopefully will be able to minimize the damage.

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