More cops on road for prom season

April 15, 2019

La PORTE — The La Porte County Sheriff’s office and La Porte County DUI Task Force will be increasing enforcement and patrols around prom and post-prom sites this spring hoping to deter alcohol use and eliminate alcohol-related crashes among prom attendees.

Proms in La Porte County are underway and conclude May 18, with prom events scheduled for South Central, La Crosse, New Prairie, La Porte, Michigan City, La Lumiere and Marquette high schools.

The sheriff’s office and DUI Task Force will “saturate the areas around each prom and post-prom site in an effort to deter potential alcohol and drug use,” according to Sheriff’s Capt. Derek Allen.

“The sheriff’s office maintains a zero tolerance towards the consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages by minors,” he said. “Those and any others who provide alcohol to minors will be targeted and jailed as well.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the Centers for Disease Control say that teens are more likely than anyone else to be killed in an alcohol-related crash.

In 2016, almost one out of five teenage drivers involved in fatal crashes had consumed alcohol. Data shows that 16 percent of 15- to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2016 had consumed alcohol.

NHTSA also reports that in 2016, 818 teen (15-18) drivers and 569 passengers died in vehicles being driven by teen drivers. Of those, 58 percent were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the fatal crash.

“Prom is the most dangerous night of the year for teenagers,” Sheriff John Boyd said. “It is not only a dangerous time for teenagers, but also a dangerous time for anyone who is driving. Our goal is to make the prom season safe, enjoyable and memorable for all.”

The sheriff’s office and DUI Task Force have several suggestions for parents to help their child remain safe:

n Take an inventory of alcohol in their home and secure it if necessary.

n Don’t rent hotel rooms for prom-goers.

n Make a pact with children to provide a safe ride.

n Ensure that children take their cell phones with them and require them to check in through the evening.

n Discuss plans in advance of the prom, so exact plans are known.

n Prom-goers should have an agenda and parents should require them to adhere to it.

n Know their child’s date before the prom and with whom they will be attending, if double-dating.

n Exchange telephone numbers with the parents of their child’s date.

n Consider hosting an alcohol-free post prom party with child’s friends welcome to spend the night.

n Understand that alcohol is a drug; is not acceptable; and is illegal for those under 21.

n Stay up for their children’s return home and advise them they will be waiting.

“We are pleased that for 16 consecutive years no La Porte County high school prom attendee has been injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash and our goal remains the same,” Boyd said.

“Our increased enforcement efforts will be an indication that we want La Porte County youth to be safe and to enjoy their prom. We wish for prom-goers to create pleasant and cherished memories, not memories of tragedy.”

—From staff reports

South Central: April 27, Grand march at school at 5:30. p.m., prom at Zao Island, Valparaiso

LaCrosse: April 27, Grand march at school at 5 p.m., prom at Chesapeake Run Golf Club, North Judson

New Prairie High School: May 4, Heston Events Center

Michigan City: May 10, Blue Chip Casino Stardust Events Center

La Porte High School: May 11, La Porte Civic Auditorium

La Lumiere: May 11

Marquette Catholic High School: May 18, County Line Orchard, Hobart