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Important reminders for parents before sending their teens to Prom

CHICAGO (April 24, 2019) – With prom season in full swing in Chicago, police are on heightened alert for underage drinking. Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. attorney Brian L. Salvi is sharing some important reminders to keep teens safe, and parents and guardians out of legal trouble this prom and graduation season.

Prom Party Safety 

According to a survey by AAA, 41 percent of teens between the ages of 16 and 19 admitted it was “highly likely” that they or a friend would use drugs or alcohol on prom night.  Approximately 53% of teens who admitted to drinking during or after prom said they consumed four or more alcoholic beverages.

Many parents believe that hosting a party at their home may provide a safe alternative to having their children sneak around.  They believe that by hosting a party at their home, they may be able to ensure that no one drinks too much or gets behind the wheel. However, adults should be aware that law enforcement officials are no longer turning a blind eye on social hosts. They are coming down on them hard.  With the passage of the Social Host Law, parents could find themselves in serious legal trouble if they allow any underage drinking to occur on their watch.  These legal troubles could range from jail time, to being sued in civil court for financial damages.

The passage of the Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act in January of 2004 opened the door for social host liability for the first time in Illinois. In 2013, Illinois passed a Social Host Law that states any adult who knowingly allows underage drinking or provides alcohol to minors can be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. If the illegal, underage drinking results in injury or death, the adult could be charged with a Class 4 felony.

Parents should be aware that there are still a wide range of circumstances that could impact whether parents are held responsible under the law. For example, a person may not be liable if they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent underage drinking from occurring in their home.

Limousine Dangers

In addition to the risks associated with underage drinking, renting a limo could also put teens in a potentially dangerous situation.

Renting a limo is especially popular for prom-goers because teens like the excitement and it gives parents peace-of-mind that their kids won’t be behind the wheel on a night that involves a lot of distractions and potentially alcohol. But parents should know that not every limo company and driver can be trusted. Surprisingly, it is not hard for someone to purchase a limo and tout themselves as a reputable limo company.

Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard warns parents should approach hiring a limo driver for their teen with the same discretion they use while hiring a nanny or babysitter for a young child. In addition to performing extensive interviews and background checks, parents should take the following steps to ensure their teens are safe:

  1. Ask about the company’s liability insurance – This is important, you don’t want to be involved in an accident and the financial/ legal burden fall on the teen or family’s insurance.
  2. Make sure the driver has a valid commercial driver’s license, in addition to a state driver’s license- You can perform this check on your own on the city of Chicago’s website and search for your assigned driver’s name.
  3. Read online reviews and ask questions
  4. Do a criminal background check on your driver to see if they have a record

Once the limo arrives parents should be sure to check to make sure the car isn’t overloaded – there should be a capacity sign in the limo or in the door that you can check before sending your teen on their way.

When in doubt, it is important to remember that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Please click here for more detailed instructions on how to run a search for a business or chauffeur license. 

To schedule an interview about these prom safety warnings, please contact Marcie Mangan at 312-372-1227 or mmangan@salvilaw.com.

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