For many high school students, preparing for prom means picking out the perfect dress, booking the limousine and making reservations to a posh restaurant.
However, our Birmingham DUI attorneys understand that at Chelsea High School, about a half hour away, students are gearing up for participation in the “Every 15 Minutes Program.”
The program offers a dramatic example of the dangerous and potentially fatal consequences of both impaired and distracted driving on prom night. A simulated motor vehicle crash on the school’s football field will feature students who will act as if they are injured and a coroner who will handle simulated, on-scene deaths.
Additionally, sheriff’s officials will be on hand to book a teenage drunk driving “suspect.”
Students will be shuffled to their classrooms, where a chaplain will read an “obituary” of the students who were killed, detailing how they died. Then, pre-selected juniors and seniors will be called from every class, only to return as “living dead,” their faces painted with white make-up and wearing a coroner’s tag. They will not be allowed to speak or interact with other students for the remainder of the day.
It sounds an elaborate rouse, but the hope is it will drive home the message that drinking and driving can be deadly.
We sincerely hope it is effective.
Inevitably, there will be some who proceed to consume alcohol that night and get behind the wheel anyway.
Prom and graduation season – April through June – are the most dangerous times for teens. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people, and more than one-third of all alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving teens throughout the entire year occur during this time frame.
In 2010, of the teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 1 out of 5 had alcohol in their system, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC further states that a driver between the ages of 16 and 20 with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher is 30 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than someone who is over the age of 21.
Alabama had one of the highest rates of reported drinking and driving in the country, according to a separate CDC report. The study indicated that between 11.5 and 14.5 Alabama high school students 16 and older answering yes to a question of whether they have ever been impaired behind the wheel.
Those arrested for DUI or any related offense should immediately contact our experienced Birmingham DUI defense lawyers. While we certainly understand the position of parents who hope the entire experience of an arrest and conviction will teach their children a valuable lesson, the fact is, this lesson has the potential to haunt your teen for the rest of his life. A DUI conviction could potentially hinder future scholarship and college entry opportunities, as well as certain career fields. That’s why we fight so vigorously to defend our young clients.
As you are still preparing for prom, parents should keep the following in mind:
- Provide your teen with a safe way to get home, such as picking them up or arranging for transportation throughout the evening;
- Model safe driving behaviors;
- Make sure they are following their “rules for the road” at all times, which include never drinking and driving, following Alabama’s graduated driver’s license laws, wearing a seat belt, limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle, never texting or talking on the phone behind the wheel, obeying the speed limits and limiting nighttime driving.