Franklin County officials: Keep alcohol out of grad parties

Shopping for a graduation party? Don’t buy beer, Franklin County officials say. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

MALONE — In a press release issued Wednesday, Franklin County District Attorney Elizabeth Crawford along with Franklin County STOP-DWI coordinator Craig Collette warned against the dangers of underage drinking and the legal consequences to providing alcohol to minors.

With area school graduations approaching, the Franklin County STOP-DWI reminds everyone that providing alcohol to minors presents a liability issue under New York state’s Dram Shop Liability Law. It is also a class A misdemeanor under the state Penal Law, the release stated.

Students and parents alike are encouraged to celebrate graduations safely, but officials stressed that alcohol use should be kept off party plans. Collette said hosting a party where alcohol is available to underage people is illegal and can be costly to everyone involved.

“It is vital for everyone to remember the importance of discouraging underage drinking. It seems like every year at this time we hear of another needless tragedy due to underage drinking,” Collette said in the release. “This is why it is so important that all communities throughout Franklin County work together.”

According to the release, New York state is one of 42 states that recognize the Dram Shop statutes, which refers to civil liabilities arising out of the sale or provision of alcohol to obviously intoxicated people or minors who subsequently cause death or injury to a third party as a result of an alcohol related accident. There are criminal and civil legal consequences for any adult who knowingly allows a person under the age of 21 to remain on their property while consuming or possessing alcoholic beverages.

Research has also shown parents tend to dramatically underestimate underage drinking generally and their own children’s drinking in particular. According to state Penal Law Section 260.20, it is illegal to sell or give alcohol to youths under the age of 21. Along with the Dram Shop civil liabilities, this should help parents make the right decisions about providing any alcoholic beverages at prom, graduation or any other party that they host where there are underage youths present, the release said.

In addition, Collette said the Franklin County STOP-DWI program is planning several more saturation patrol and sobriety checkpoints within the county. He cautions residents that driving while intoxicated will not be tolerated and that parents that allow underage drinking parties on their premises will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“There is not a single person who can argue the fact that we are trying to save lives. We understand alcohol plays a role in our society, and we are just asking everyone to be more responsible in their decision making and realize sometimes their choices will last a lifetime. One mistake made early in life can have lifelong ramifications,” Collette said in the release. “This year tragedies can be avoided and lives can be saved if everyone makes the right choice by choosing not to drink and not to drink and drive.

“There is never a good reason to drink and drive … Never.”

Franklin County STOP-DWI will be handing out key chain carabiner to every graduating high school senior, Collette said. Imprinted with “Be the Key — Don’t Drink & Drive” on one side and “Franklin County STOP-DWI” on the other.

“Hopefully it will be a reminder to them as they are putting the keys into the ignition to stop and think before they drive,” Collette told the Telegram Wednesday, adding that underage alcohol purchasing details are planned heading into the graduation season.


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