Youth Alcohol Campaign encourages safe driving during prom season
JEFFERSON CITY - As prom season begins, the Jefferson City Police Department will start sending out more officers to monitor potential drinking and driving.
The Youth Alcohol Awareness Campaign program runs May 4-15, and local law enforcement across the state will put more resources into monitoring underage drinking and driving.
The Missouri Safety Center gave the Jefferson City Police Department a grant to cover the costs of using additional officers to work various prom nights.
Traffic Unit Officer Shawn Dumsday said additional officers will only have one responsibility these nights: patrolling the streets to make sure teens aren’t breaking any alcohol laws.
“They’re not answering any other calls, all that they’re doing is specifically traffic-oriented,” said Dumsday.
Missouri has a “Zero Tolerance” law, meaning anyone under 21 years of age caught driving under the influence will have their license suspended and must attend a class on substance abuse.
City officers won’t be responsible for any on-site monitoring. Dumsday said school resource officers who typically are at school events will do the same for prom nights.
In addition to extra police officer presence, Helias High School in Jefferson City also requires students to use a Breathalyzer before entering prom to check their blood-alcohol level.
According to Helias Communications Director Sandy Hentges, students are chosen at random to use the Breathalyzer, but the school enforces policies regarding drinking and driving year-round.
According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, between 2011 and 2014, there were 69 fatal crashes in Missouri involving an underage and under-the-influence driver.
MODOT encourages everyone, not just prom-goers to find alternatives to drinking and driving, such as calling a sober ride or staying at a friend’s house.