High school graduation season is upon us. Already some local students have crossed the stage and moved their tassels. My own daughter graduated over the weekend. It was a joyful and emotional few days, full of fun and celebration. But we also took a few minutes to understand the risks that come with the event.
Most graduates are 18 - full adults in the eyes of the law, if not in the eyes of mom and dad. Trouble that might have been easier to deal with or escape as juveniles carries far greater penalties going forward. The consequences of a mistake now can be grave, and even life altering. An arrest and conviction, even a misdemeanor, could impact educational or licensing opportunities. It is well worth a conversation with your graduate so they understand the stakes are higher as they move into the real world!
Graduation night is one of the most dangerous for these young adults. There is a newfound feeling of freedom and independence and a well-deserved desire to celebrate! This year, too, after being confined for so long, the urge to let loose is strong. But be careful and cautious.
Most have heard that higher than a .08 bac is driving under the influence. But for a driver under 21, any presence of alcohol - any - is dui. The cost of this violation is severe, both in terms of money and life consequences. This says nothing of the shattering impact of a collision. It is never worth drinking and driving, and during graduation season, with so many young drivers on the road and out late, the risk is high.
In more typical years, high schools celebrated their graduates with lock in style, overnight parties. These were specifically designed to keep kids safe, away from the temptation of alcohol, and off the roads. Covid has forced changes to those well-orchestrated and popular grad night plans. This year there will certainly be private parties, which may include alcohol and drugs.
For us parents, it is worth this stark reminder - providing underage kids with alcohol exposes us to tremendous legal liability. I have one simple, direct recommendation - don't do it. No exceptions. If a kid drinks at your house and gets in a crash afterwards, you can certainly expect to be on the short end of a lawsuit. And it's not limited to supplying the drinks. Turning a blind eye - not knowing what is happening in your house can be just as bad. So keep an eye on what is happening at your house!
Enjoy graduation season! Celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021 as they finish their high school careers and move on to new adventures. And take a few minutes to set expectations and counsel your kids. The worst can be avoided with a bit of knowledge, and they won't get caught up in trouble because they "just didn't know" what could happen.