This June, many of our County’s teens will be graduating high school and getting ready for college or entry into the workforce. Many see this time as a “rite of passage” and engage in underage drinking and drug use (marijuana being the #1 drug). Also, many parents see no problem in hosting graduation parties where alcohol will be served. Graduations are meant to be enjoyable and memorable experiences. “However, when alcohol and/or drugs are in the mix, quite the opposite can happen especially in Putnam where many young people will be getting in their cars to travel to and from parties around the County” says Bruce Kelly, Coalition Coordinator of Putnam Communities That Care Coalition.
To ensure that our young people have a safe and enjoyable graduation, law enforcement in Putnam County will be conducting party patrols throughout the graduation season. They will be on the lookout for intoxicated/impaired drivers as well as for underage drinking parties at area residences. “High School graduation is a time for celebration, a special occasion not to be marred by tragedy. Extra police officers will be assigned to DWI enforcement during graduation weekend to promote traffic safety” says Carmel Police Chief Michael Cazzari.
Every town in Putnam County has passed legislation entitled Social Host Liability Law. These local laws make it a misdemeanor to “host, suffer, permit, organize, or allow a party, gathering or event at his or her place of residence…where three or more minors are present and alcoholic beverages are being consumed by any minor.” In other words, it is illegal for anyone to host a party at their home and allow underage drinking to occur. This misdemeanor crime is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $3000 fine.
Putnam County Sheriff Robert L. Langley Jr. noted that “Taking measures to ensure all our graduates have a safe and memorable occasion will not only be one of our responsibilities but the responsibility of our community. This is a time of achievement for these graduates and it should be filled with happy memories for them and their families. As an additional measure for safety the Sheriff’s Department will be increasing patrols during the graduation week to address traffic safety,” said the Sheriff.
Kent Police Lieutenant Kevin Owens stated, ” Parents should set the example and enforce the rules for this upcoming generation, it’s never a good time to drink and drive, but especially during this time of year when so many youngsters are celebrating their graduation and moving on to the next phase of their lives. The Kent patrols will be on the lookout for DWI’s and erratic driving during the graduation season and all year.”
The Putnam Communities That Care Coalition along with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, NY State Police, Kent Police Department, Carmel Police Department, Brewster Police Department and Cold Spring Police Department wish all of our graduates good luck and remind them to be safe during graduation time.