Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
Over the past several years, I have posted a number of blog entries about teen driving, distracted driving, dangers of drinking and driving, and safe celebrations. Rather than citing a list of grim statistics about the possible dangerous situations teens may encounter on prom night, I’d like to share some valuable commonsense prom night safety tips from The Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.
Establish Ground Rules for Prom Night
- “Set non-negotiable rules about drinking, drugs and driving under the influence of alcohol.
- FACT: Under Virginia legislation, persons 18 to 20 convicted of underage purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol will lose their driver’s license for six months to a year. Consequences also include a Class 1 misdemeanor on file for life.
- Teens under 18 may also lose their driver’s license for six months to a year, or have driving privileges delayed for six months following the date he/she reaches the age of 16 and three months.
- Ask your teen for a complete itinerary for the evening, including where they’ll be going before, during and after prom.
- Ask for cell phone numbers so you can reach them, and/or establish call-in times to connect with your kids.
- Be aware of alcoholic energy drinks, which contain 6-12 percent alcohol, nearly three times more alcohol than most beers.
- If your child is going to an after-prom party at a friend’s house, it is your responsibility to find out if the parents are going to allow underage drinking at their home.
- Offer your child the unconditional option of calling you for help, advice or to pick them up at anytime, day or night. Make it clear you want to be part of their smart and safe decisions.”
After-Prom Party Guidelines
“Responsible hosting is the key to a safe and successful after-prom party. If your guest list includes persons under the age of 21, be aware that serving to an underage person is considered one of the most serious ABC violations and is against the law.
It is illegal to provide alcohol to a guest under the age of 21 unless they are accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse who is 21 years of age or older.
- Although parents have the right to provide alcohol to their own children in their own home, it is illegal to purchase, aid and abet or give alcohol to other minors. Do not allow anyone younger than 21 years of age to consume alcoholic beverages at your party, and do not allow persons of legal age to provide alcoholic beverages to anyone underage. Violating any of these laws can result in the conviction of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $2,500 and/or up to one year in jail.
- As the host of a party or event, you may be held responsible for the actions of your guests. The party host could face civil liability if either a partygoer is hurt or a third person is injured due to alcohol impairment.
- Remember, one does not have to be heavily intoxicated to be impaired. Driving skills and abilities can be impaired with the first drink.
- Virginia’s Zero Tolerance Law makes driving after having consumed almost any amount of alcohol a serious criminal offense for drivers under the age of 21.”
Enjoy prom night celebrations. Create lasting memories. Just remember to keep safety in mind.
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About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year” (2011). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 1%” of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2011 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2010)– national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.