A couple of weeks ago a demonstration at Henley High School showed in realistic fashion the aftermath of a car crash that involved teenagers and alcohol. It was part of the nationwide Operation Prom Night to discourage high school students from drinking and driving.
The devastating immediate effects of a serious accident were simulated by students and staff of Henley and Bonanza high schools. Simulated, yes — but, probably real enough to cause some heavy-duty thinking among those watching, or who read Stephen Floyd’s description in the Herald and News or saw video and photos of it.
That was the point.
Here is another: In addition to deaths and injuries from drunken driving, is the responsibility assumed by adults who furnish alcohol to underage drinkers.
That should be considered by adults as the high schools approach graduation night — a time of good cheer for graduating seniors and their families, but also one sometimes associated with underage drinking and traffic accidents.
Any adults who think they are being good parents by hosting parties with underage drinkers would do well to take a look at Oregon laws about such things.
No one, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, except a parent or guardian, can provide alcohol to a minor (under 21). To be legal it has to be done only in a a private residence in the presence of the parent.
“If you allow your property and/or home to be used for a party where minors, other than your minor child(ren) consume alcohol in your presence, you may have to forfeit property and may be issued a criminal citation.”
The power to provide alcohol to a minor can’t be transferred from a parent to other adults.
Then there’s ORS 471.565: “As a licensee, permittee or social host, if you serve visibly intoxicated persons or guests, you may be held liable for damages caused by the persons or guests away from your home or licensed premises.”
You might wind up in court in the aftermath of a serious accident debating how to define “visibly intoxicated,” with a lot riding on the outcome.
In addition to any criminal charges, civil cases could take years and be a crushing financial burden along with the agonizing weight of guilt.
Obviously the immediate effects of drunken driving accident are the most important. But it doesn’t end there. Criminal and civil issues can last for years.
Minors and adults aren’t the same in the eyes of the law and, we hope, in most other eyes as well. The law accords special protections for minors, as it should. Adults, we hope, recognize the responsibility that they have in keeping alcohol away from minors and possible consequences if they don’t.
Members of the Herald and News editorial board are Publisher Mark Dobie, Editor and General Manager Gerry O’Brien and Forum Editor Pat Bushey, who wrote this editorial. Community advisers to the editorial board are Bill Jennings, Sergio Cisneros, Jenine Stuedli, Tracey Liskey and Ernie Palmer.