Underage Drinking, Adult Consequences this Prom Season Where do you want your child on prom night?

March 2, 2014 - Southwest Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - After Prom parties are being hosted for La Plata County high schools.

DURANGO, CO —Prom season is upon us and many Colorado teenagers will create memories that last a lifetime. Through The Heat Is On anti-impaired driving campaign, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement agencies throughout the state are joining forces from April 6 through May 18 to crackdown on impaired driving. This coincides with prom season, a time when celebrations can turn dangerous if alcohol and drugs are involved. Nationwide, there were 1,000 fatalities during prom in 2012.

“Motor vehicle crashes are the number one leading cause of death among teens. Our goal is to keep them safe by removing impaired drivers from Colorado roadways,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Prom is a night to remember: a time that should include laughter, fun and reminiscing with friends. But when alcohol and drugs are involved, the night can quickly turn disastrous.”

Using alcohol or marijuana is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 in Colorado and could result in the loss of a driver’s license, even if that person is not driving when the offense occurred. Young drivers should know that an impaired driver of any age convicted of DUI will have to pay on average $10,270, in addition to losing their driver’s license and possibly entering a treatment program. Young drivers also risk jeopardizing academic eligibility, college acceptance and current or future employment opportunities.

“We are proud of our students in Colorado. Most of the time, they make good decisions,” said Carol Gould, CDOT Highway Safety Manager. “This time of year, peer pressure is a big part of life in high school. We want to help students make smart choices and create positive memories, not dangerous ones that they will remember for the rest of their lives—for all the wrong reasons.”

Here are some tips for teens to ensure a safe prom without risking a DUI:

  • Don’t get into a vehicle with a driver you think may be drunk or high, even if they say they are fine to drive.
  • Have an emergency transportation plan ready, someone you can call to pick you up if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.
  • Call *CSP (*277) or 911 if you think someone is impaired and behind the wheel. Feel empowered to save the life of a friend or fellow classmate.
  • Many schools offer an alcohol-free after party. Take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy even more time with your friends in a safe place.

Durango High School is offering that safe place. For more than 12 years, the DHS After Prom has been devoted to providing a fun and safe all-night event for Durango High School juniors and seniors to enjoy.

Bayfield High School is also hosting an After Prom event on April 12, as is Ignacio High School on April 26.

“Because drunk driving remains the single greatest cause of fatal crashes in Southwest Colorado and nationwide, detecting impaired drivers and strictly enforcing Colorado’s DUI laws will continue to be a top priority for the Colorado State Patrol,” said CSP Trooper Doug Wiersma.  “Because of this, we strongly support the community’s efforts to provide a safe haven for our area high school students on prom night – a night that has proven nationally to be one of the most dangerous nights of the year for high school students.”

The Heat Is On runs the entire year with 12 specific DUI enforcement periods centered on national holidays and large, public events. More details about the DUI enforcement plans and arrest results can be found at HeatIsOnColorado.com.