With Graduation in Full Swing, Authorities Cracking Down on Parents for Underage Drinking

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

Thousands of local high school and college students will be graduating this week -- meaning thousands of graduation parties will be thrown to celebrate their acheivements. While local law enforcement says it will be cracking down on grads who choose not to celebrate responsibly, they say they'll also be on the hunt for parents who do the same.

Carma Brown is the parent of a graduating high school senior. Having done the graduation thing with another son, she says she knows all too well the pressures of throwing a good party.

"We want to congratulate them, we want to reward them," said Brown. "So typically the way to do that is to throw a graduation party."

But law enforcement says all too often, parents think throwing a good party equals buying underage grads and their friends alcohol, not giving a second thought to the consequences.

"I think that's the mindset most parents think of is it wouldn't happen to me, it wouldn't happen to my child," said Trish Mahre, a deputy district attorney in the Mesa County District Attorney's Office. "But it's happened in our community."

"Graduation time is when parents seem to be the most lenient," said Brown.

That's why officials say they kindly want to remind parents just what those consequences are. Providing alcohol to a minor is a class one misdemeanor -- but that's only if they're 18 or older. Get caught giving booze to anyone under 18 and you'll be charged with a felony. And they say either way, a conviction is not pretty.

"It can result in incarceration, significant fines, but worst of all, it can result in revocation of your driver's license," said Mahre.

"There's a whole lot of risk involved in providing alcohol to minors," said Brown.

Brown says it's for those reasons, she's not even hosting a party at her house, opting to do a graduation luncheon at a restaurant instead -- minimizing the potential for anything to get out of control.

"If they leave and they were drinking and driving, they hurt someone, or they died, that's gonna fall on your conscience," said Brown.

Officials say they're only asking parents to do one thing: really think through your party plans, so your graduate's big day doesn't turn into your worst one.

"Remember that we're celebrating the happiness, health, and the success of our kids," said Mahre.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office and Grand Junction Police Department say they will both be increasing patrols this week, specifically to lookout for underage drinking.

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