Wednesday May 15, 2013

PITTSFIELD

The time for prom and graduation is here. We congratulate the graduates on this milestone in their lives and wish them success, health and happiness in the future. We want to share some information with you to keep this season free of incidents involving alcohol and drugs, so that all of our teens will only have great memories of this season. Our local police department will be sending out extra patrols on prom nights, intent on looking out for teens who might be drinking and driving, or transporting alcohol.

Students and parents should be aware of the law. Massachusetts law states that no persons under the age of 21 can purchase, possess, or consume intoxicants. Additionally, anyone under 21 who operates a vehicle after consuming alcohol, regardless of the blood alcohol level, will lose their driver’s license. Those underage caught transporting alcohol can also lose their license for up to 180 days and could be arrested.

Furthermore, hosting a party where there is underage drinking can result in criminal or civil liability. It is against the law to furnish (or sell) alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, other than one’s own child. Selling, delivering or furnishing alcohol may result in a jail term of 1 year and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. A party host also has civil liability to think about. Whether the party is in your home, your garage, or in a field, if you own the property you are civilly liable if a person leaves your property after consuming intoxicants and injures themselves or others.

If you are a parent who has a teen attending a prom this season, please encourage them to attend the after-prom. Each year, Pittsfield High and Taconic have great turnouts at their after-proms. Rather than hosting a party and taking away the keys, encourage your teen to attend this substance-free event.

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Here are some additional tips from drugfree.org that parents can use to keep their teenagers safe during the spring season and into the summer:

* Be sure your teen understands that drinking under the age of 21 is illegal and unacceptable.

* Know where your teen is going, and ask lots of questions. Who will be there? Will alcohol or other drugs be present? Will adults be home? Do those adults tolerate drinking in their home?

* Discuss with your teen situations in which he or she might be offered drugs or alcohol, and plan ways for how they can respond. Be sure your teen knows to call 911 immediately if a partygoer needs medical attention.

* Make a plan with your teen for how he or she will get home. Remind him or her never to get in a car with a driver who has been using drugs or drinking. Provide money for a taxi or public transportation if it is available and safe in your area. Make an agreement with your teen that if he or she calls to ask for a ride, you will come immediately (no matter where or what time), with no questions asked until later.

* Be a role model, and know that your behavior is a major influence on your child. Drink responsibly, and don’t abuse alcohol or drugs. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance. Never get in a car with a driver who is under the influence. Safeguard your prescription medicine.

Additional tips for teens are available at pittsfieldpreven
tionpartnership.org or on the PPP’s website.

For more information, contact the coordinator of the Pittsfield Prevention Partnership, Paul McNeil, at Berkshire United Way: (413) 442-6948, or pmcneil@berkshireunitedway.org.

Paul McNeil is the coordinator of the Pittsfield Prevention Partnership and Sgt. Mark Trapani of the Pittsfield Police Department is also a member of the PPP’s Steering Committee.