"Too often, we have seen this time of celebration turn into a time of tragedy," Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said. "Criminal charges related to underage drinking can change a person’s life. Even worse, serious injury or death can turn what should be a new beginning into a tragic end."
Teens face the following penalties for underage drinking:
- Buying or possessing alcohol under the age of 21 can result in multiple criminal charges, including alcohol possession, misrepresentation of age to obtain alcohol and possession of a fake ID. Each charge carries a $500 fine and violators must appear in court.
- Using a fake ID can result in the loss of license for up to one year.
- Charges for consuming alcohol while driving, or driving under the influence each carries a fine of $500.
- For a DUI conviction, the penalty is loss of license for 120 days or more. Young people driving with provisional licenses must be conviction-free for 18 months before they are eligible to obtain a driver’s license.
The Howard County Police Department said it's also sending letters to the hotels and motels in the county, asking them to strictly enforce their policies of not renting rooms to anyone under 21 and to call police if parents or other adults try to rent rooms for minors.
To provide safe places for teens to go, Howard County has granted $2,000 to each PTSA for the schools' "Project Safe and After Prom" parties, police said.
Graduation Traffic PatrolsPolice said officers will also be ramping up enforcement on roads near the high schools in Howard County as the school year winds down, especially at the start and end of the school day.
The goal was to cut down on speeding and aggressive driving as well as to increase seatbelt use among student drivers, police said.