‘Tis the season for prom night shenanigans, and while it can be a harmless evening of fun for high school students as the academic year comes to an end, it’s also a dangerous time for teens.
Prom night adventures can lead to serious or even fatal incidents, as well as the legal trouble that often follows. As a parent, it’s important to talk to your teen about the potential dangers of prom night, how to avoid them, and how to respond to peer pressure.
Having a plan in place can go a long way toward ensuring your soon-to-be graduate has the opportunity to continue the fun well beyond prom. Below, we cover five common crimes associated with prom night, and how to help your teen avoid them.
The law is plain: anyone under 21 is not allowed to drink. No matter the tradition, underage consumption and possession of alcohol is illegal. Apart from the physical dangers drinking imposes not only on your child but on those around them, getting caught can affect your son or daughter’s athletic and other extracurricular eligibility, as well as their entire academic future.
The simplest way to avoid underage drinking charges – don’t drink. However, it’s especially important not to show up to prom or any other school-sponsored events after having consumed alcohol. Teens are often caught at these events by chaperones, administrators, and police liaison officers.
While abstinence is the most obvious option for staying out of DUI trouble, you still need to find a way to impress upon your teen a grave warning that if they do drink, absolutely do not drive.
An underage DUI can affect college admissions, and is punishable by jail time, fines, loss of license, and potential other restrictions such as an ignition interlock device.
Because of the dangers associated with drunk driving – every year, DUI deaths go up around prom season – law enforcement is on the lookout, and consequences are steep.
Help your teen develop a plan to avoid driving under the influence (or riding with a drunk driver). This could include a designated driver, ride sharing, and the safety net of giving your teen a ride home if all else fails.
Alcohol and peer pressure also cause many teens to make questionable decisions regarding sex at prom. Educate your teen about consent.
No means no, and even in the absence of a “no,” affirmative consent should always be given. Further, taking things too far when a partner is unable to give consent due to intoxication is also considered sexual assault.
Impress upon your child that going any further than his or her partner affirmatively consents to not only isn’t okay, it could be met with serious criminal consequences.
Vandalism is another time-honored prom night tradition in many places. However, vandalism is illegal, and participation can bring about serious criminal consequences. Criminal damage to property can result in jail time, probation and fines, and may affect academic and athletic eligibility.
Share these facts with your teen, and be sure they know the difference between harmless fun and criminal activities.
Many teens celebrate prom long into the night, but those under 18 out driving around past curfew can be cited for a violation, which is punishable by a $500 fine and community service.
In Illinois, curfew hours are 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on weekdays, and 12:01 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. on weekends. If your teen plans to be out later for prom, ask that he or she plan on spending the night.
Prom is an amazing night for many teens, and can be for yours too, so long as you have these important conversations and plans in place ahead of time to avoid criminal charges.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.