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Prom and grad parties can create legal risks for NC teens

Now that spring has arrived, high school students all across North Carolina will be getting ready to celebrate several important events. The next few months will be filled with proms, graduations and the parties that follow them.

These are important milestones in a teen's life, but they can also come with dangers. Prom and graduation parties often present teens with opportunities to drink or try illegal drugs, and many students don't realize the consequences of getting caught. A criminal charge like underage drinking could easily disrupt post-graduation plans.

Police will also be on high alert for drunk drivers during the next few months. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that alcohol-related car accidents tend to spike during April, May and June.

The increase in car accidents usually correlates with drinking during proms and graduations. Therefore, it is safe to assume that police in New Hanover and Sampson Counties know the dates for local proms and graduation ceremonies.

Police will likely be on high alert to catch underage drunk drivers during these times. If you are caught driving after drinking while underage, any amount of alcohol in your system can result in a DWI.

Parents might understand that young students sometimes make mistakes and bad choices. However, North Carolina courts aren't nearly as understanding. And a criminal conviction for underage drinking or DWI could seriously interrupt a student's college plans. It could mean a loss of scholarships, loss of job opportunities and ineligibility to play on sports teams.

So as you celebrate this spring, please remember to celebrate responsibly. Enjoy looking back on all you have accomplished, but as you do so, please make smart decisions to ensure that your future looks just as bright.

Source:, "Prom, graduation season accelerates dangers of underage drinking, drugs," Nichole White, 04 April 2011

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