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May 12, 2014

After-prom parties aim to cut down on underage drinking

PLATTSBURGH — Area high schools hold after-prom parties year after year in hopes that students will stay out of the trouble during and after the highly anticipated social event.

Prom season is one of four times each year where underage drinking is most prevalent, said Sgt. Frank Mercier, coordinator of STOP-DWI.

The other three are graduation and the first 30 days of the the fall and spring semesters of college, he said.

In addition to drunken driving, other concerns for police during these times are assaults, sexual assaults and binge drinking.

Out of the 639 DWI arrests in Clinton County last year, 57 of the defendants were under 21, some as young as 17, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

HELPING WITH COSTS

The schools each received $1,000 from the Clinton County Sheriff's Department STOP-DWI program to fund alcohol-free parties. The money that runs STOP-DWI comes solely from fines paid by DWI offenders.

The agency's board has steadily increased the amount of money they donate to the schools, from $5,000 in 2009 to the $9,000 donated this year, Mercier said.

The organization has awarded money to high schools for after-prom parties since 1992, when Rick Hazen began presenting a mock DWI crash as a warning to students. Hazen also helped create the Victims Impact Panel program, at which he speaks.

'FUN WITHOUT DRINKING'

"I think it's the perfect way to spend the money," said Cheryl Maggy, Plattsburgh High School nurse and co-organizer of the after-prom party.

"You're teaching the kids that they can have a fun time at one of those milestone evenings without having to drink."

This marks the 10th year that Plattsburgh High School has hosted an after-prom party.

Maggy is organizing the event with PHS guidance counselor Heather Hall. About 15 parents have volunteered to help, so far.

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