Breathalzyers Have Prom Dates at Various High Schools This Year!
By: Chris Kramer
Corsages, tuxedos, limos and breathalyzers are coming to high school proms and dances this year, at least in some schools in the country. In yet another effort to curb underage drinking and driving, various high schools are requiring students to take breath tests before allowing them to attend and participate in prom night festivities.
Here are just a few examples of this relatively new policy of using the breathalyzer in high school proms and dances to prevent underage drinking and DUI:
• Students at Walhert High School in Dubuque, Iowa will now be required to take a breathalyzer test before being admitted to any school dances for the rest of this school year. Principal Don Sisler said in an Associated Press story that the goal of this new policy using the breathalyzer in high school dances is to make sure that all of their events are alcohol-free. Sisler added in the story that a breathalyzer consent form has been sent home to all parents of teenagers at the high school along with a letter explaining the move. Students from other schools who attend Walhert High dances, including the May 5th prom, would also be required to bring a consent form. If a student tests positive for alcohol, the story said that he or she will be retested.
• Various high schools in Wakefield, Massachusetts have adopted a similar high school breathalyzer policy for all school dances. A recent Wakefield Daily Item story detailed how both Wakefield Memorial High School and Northeast Metro Tech Vocational High School will be using breathalyzer tests for the first time this prom season. Wakefield High School Principal Elinor Freedman said in the story that she became concerned about student safety at these events when several students expressed their own concerns about underage drinking. After discussion on the subject, the local Parent Teacher Student Association agreed to pay for two breathalyzers at a price of $325 apiece.
Like the aforementioned high school in Iowa, Freedman said that her students will have to sign a contract consenting to a breath test in order to attend the prom. But instead of testing everyone, the school will randomly test students based on a number printed on their prom ticket. Students who show any signs of being intoxicated will be administered a breath test by school officials. For any student who fails a breathalyzer test, he or she will either be taken home by a parent or placed into police protective custody, which is not the same as being arrested. While under police protective custody, a student would be taken in by police officers for a few hours in order for them to "sober up" and not do anything dangerous or deadly. If a student is intoxicated and requires medical attention, he or she will be taken to a local hospital and the student's parents will be notified.
• The Vermillion Parish school board in Louisiana recently approved the use of breathalyzers to get into high school proms and homecoming with a unanimous vote. If the breathalyzer machine produces a BAC result of .015 percent or higher for the tested student, the school will hold on to him or her until their parents are notified and come to get them. Principal Francis Touchet that this high school breathalyzer policy is just a part of keeping students safe.
• Lac qui Parle Valley High School and Montevideo High School are just two Minnesota schools requiring breathalyzer tests for students prior to joining prom events. A West Central Tribune Online story said that Lac qui Parle Valley High School required students to blow into breathalyzer tests prior to last year's prom. School Principal John Fulton declined comment on the experience other than saying that the school decided to do it again this year for its May 5th prom. Montevideo High School will be mandating breathalyzer tests for the first time during its prom, which is also on May 5th. While Principal Bruce Bergeson said that the school hasn't had any past alcohol-related issues at recent problems, the move is just another example of making the experience even safer.
Could Breathalyzer Tests Be Coming to the Prom at One Arkansas High School?
While Winfield High School in Arkansas hasn't started giving all students attending high school dances a breathalyzer test before letting them in, its principal would like to see such a policy. Greg Rinehart was described in an ARKCity.Net story as saying that such a move would come in response to parent concerns that drinking is taking place at high school dances and recent police raids on parties where underage drinking was taking place. When recently presenting this idea to the school board, Rinehart was met with some opposition.
The story described how board member Vic McClung wondered what Rinehart would do if a student refused to be tested. Board member Floyd Goff also asked whether a student who was drinking would even bother going to a high school dance. He then posed the self-evident question of if it would be better for a student to be under the supervision of adults at a dance or drinking on his or her own. Board president Beth Wilke concluded that they would need to see a proposal in the meantime before deciding on whether or not to implement a breathalyzer policy at this Arkansas high school.