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Hurricane deters pre-prom drinking with breathalyzers

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Statistics show that 1/3 of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving teens each year occur during prom and graduation season (the months of April, May and June). Hurricane High School is taking a stand against this problem.

Last year, Hurricane High School had breathalyzers at prom to test the blood alcohol content of randomly selected prom-goers. Every 10 to 12 students were tested, and more than 100 breathalyzers were used, according to Assistant Principal Dewana Pritchard.

Being intoxicated during school events is against school policy, and this is one policy that will be enforced. This year, those who are attending prom on May 12 can expect to see breathalyzers again.

Pritchard believes these breathalyzers act as a deterrent. Since students know they'll likely be busted if they start out their night with a pre-prom drink, they may be less likely to do it.

"It gives students something to think about," Pritchard said.

The last time the threat of breathalyzers was eminent, not a single student who was tested had been drinking.

If a student had been drinking and was caught while trying to enter prom, the consequences would have been anything but minor. Intoxicated students cannot only be denied admission into the dance, but they may actually be arrested. Underage drinking is illegal, and at Hurricane High School functions, this is not something to be messed with.

Although the fact that underage drinking is against the law is a significant part of why students should not drink on prom night, it is not the main reason. Pritchard and other members of the Hurricane High School staff believe that safety is the No. 1 priority on prom night.

Students -- or anyone -- under the influence of alcohol are proven to be dangerous, especially when driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hundreds of students under the age of 21 are killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents during prom season each year. For those students attending prom, drinking can be a life or death decision.

To prevent these sorts of accidents, students should refrain from drinking on prom night, with or without the threat of breathalyzers. Nonetheless, students who aren't under the influence of alcohol can still be in danger if they aren't careful. They should avoid getting into a car with anyone who has been drinking and be wary of other drivers on the roads.

Hurricane High School's administration is doing its part to keep students safe on prom night by randomly testing attendants with breathalyzers, but it is up to individuals to make good choices and stay safe after the dance is over.


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