SEATTLE — The problem is underage drinking and it happens the most between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
After all, there are graduations and proms and other summertime celebrations. Also, teens are out of school so they are driving a lot more often, increasing their chances of being involved in an accident.
“I had to knock on a door right after a graduation one night and, uh, tell a parent their child was dead. We don’t want those knocks on the door,” Fircrest Police Chief John Cheesman said.
That is the sad reality, the worst-case scenario and the reason for stepped-up patrols and Zero Tolerance and Target Zero programs all over Western Washington.
Cheesman is also chairman of the Pierce County DUI & Traffic Safety Task Force.
He knows all too well the dangers of drinking and driving, especially where young drivers are concerned.
“Sometimes they don’t see the bigger picture and so we want to educate them as well to make sure they understand that their decisions sometimes have huge consequences and anytime we can save a life or make a difference that’s important to us,” Cheesman said.
The school year just ended and already there are signs of trouble.
This past weekend the Pierce County Task Force Party Patrol busted a huge underage drinking party.
Thirty-two people under 21 were arrested and seven of those were under age 18.
“A lot of them were drunk, we confiscated weed, lots of solo cups. There were two piles of vomit on the ground, many hard liquor bottles half empty and all these students appear to go to the same school. Somebody made a bad decision by throwing a high school party for kids with alcohol involved,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ed Troyer said.
The father who threw the party was also arrested and the mother was cited.
“Somebody had been hurt or killed, they would have been responsible. This is just something that’s not OK in today’s society,” Troyer said.
What’s worse early Monday morning, at another alleged underage party, an 18-year-old was taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.
Amy Ezzo is with the Washington State chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
She says parents have to play a greater role in their child’s safety.
“Whether parents understand it, or not, they’re the number one influence on their children’s decisions. They play an important role in their children’s lives so that’s why it’s important parents have conversations with their kids early and often and alcohol is just one of those really important topics for parents to talk to their kids about,” Ezzo said.
The bottom line; make a good decision, avoid a bad outcome.
“Make sure you have a plan especially if you’re drinking and if you’re underage, you know it’s illegal to drink make a good decision,” Cheesman said.
Cops say they don’t want to spoil the celebrations; they just want minors to keep it alcohol free, for adults to talk to their kids, never provide liquor to minors and set a good example, never drink and drive.