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Traffic Safety Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News Contact: Rosalie Thornburgh, (785) 296-3756
Chief Bureau of Traffic Safety

KDOT to Kansas Parents: "Saying 'No' at holiday time doesn't make you a Grinch" This is the time of year when even the most responsible parents are tempted to let down their guard. It's the season of celebration and joy, a time to raise a glass and toast the good times. And many teens want to join the party. Saying "No" can be difficult when that happens. It's also more vital than ever. Because this is the time of year when the risks associated with underage drinking are at their highest. Young, inexperienced drivers may confront slippery road conditions and low visibility due to bad weather. They must deal with other drivers who may be stressed, distracted and less than careful during the holiday rush. It's a time when young drivers need to be at their most alert, not have their senses and reactions dulled by even "just one or two" drinks. So when parents say "No" to teens who want to waive the rules at holiday time, they're not being a Grinch. They're actually protecting children's lives. The Kansas Department of Transportation's (KDOT) Care/Call initiative is emphasizing the danger of teen drinking parties - parent-sponsored or otherwise - as part of its year-two educational program. The initiative began last year by introducing thousands of Kansans to the theme, "Care about underage drinking. Call your local law enforcement." Many parents honestly believe they are doing their children a favor by allowing them to "do something they would do anyway," only in a controlled environment and under close supervision. "No matter how many precautions a parent takes no situation involving underage drinking is worth the risk to the welfare of our children," said Rosalie Thornburgh, Chief of KDOT's Bureau of Traffic Safety. If a minor who consumed alcohol in a home drives away drunk and is the cause of an automobile crash, the adult who served alcohol to that minor can be legally liable for any damages or fatalities as a result of the crash. There are also criminal penalties for serving alcohol to minors. Under Kansas law, it is a class B misdemeanor that carries a penalty of a fine up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. If it is determined a parent supplied alcohol to a party that involved underage drinking, that parent could face multiple counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor. If there are 10 kids at the party, this could mean a fine of up to $10,000. But there is another consequence perhaps even worse than a criminal fine or a civil lawsuit. "If a child to whom you serve alcohol gets into an automobile crash and dies or kills someone, it's a life-changing event no one should have to endure," Thornburgh said. Young people also face serious penalties for underage drinking and driving. According to Robert Longino, director of Alcohol Beverage Control for the state, "many teenagers have no idea of the criminal penalties they face." Anyone under the age of 21 found in possession of, or attempting to possess, alcohol can be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor and face hundreds of dollars in fines, community service penalties and mandatory enrollment in an alcohol education program. In addition, under Kansas' "Zero Tolerance" law, teens found guilty of consuming alcohol - whether driving or not - will automatically lose their driver's license for a full year. KDOT created the Care/Call campaign to educate parents, neighbors, friends and family about the dangers of underage drinking. One positive action a phone call to alert law enforcement officers to underage drinking situations can help keep our kids safe. And that's what KDOT and local law enforcement officials are counting on as the Care/Call campaign continues.

This page last updated 01/05/01