High school prom season starts early next month, and police will be assigning additional patrols to keep an eye out for underage drinking and youthful drunken driving on those weekends, county officials said last week.
County STOP-DWI Coordinator Robert Murphy said overtime for additional police patrols has been authorized for all prom and post-prom events. He also expects to authorize police overtime for the graduation weekends in late June, he said.
The money for those patrols comes from the county STOP-DWI program, which is funded from fines paid by people convicted of drunken driving offenses.
The big prom weekends this year are going to be May 4 and May 18-19.
Galway, Mechanicville and Stillwater high schools all have their proms on May 4, while Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Corinth, Saratoga Springs, Schuylerville, Shenendehowa and Waterford-Halfmoon all have proms the weekend of May 18-19. Shenendehowa’s senior prom is June 2, and Ballston Spa’s prom will be June 16.
“We know the level of underage drinking rises around these events, proms and graduations,” said Robin Lyle, coalition development director at The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council in Saratoga Springs.
The proms are generally held at a banquet hall sometimes many miles away from school, with after-prom activities held at the school or near it, meaning many youths are out on the road that night.
Lyle said The Prevention Council is helping organize fun non-alcohol post-prom events in some communities, including at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park.
She said the district attorney’s office has sent letters to hotels and motels in the county, urging them to be aware of the possibility of underage drinking in their rooms on those weekends.
Almost all of the graduation ceremonies will take place from June 21 to 23, though Mechanicville’s ceremony won’t be until June 30.
While proms are known as occasions for underage drinking, Murphy said graduation is also a time when police need to be on high alert for drunken driving, especially by young people.
“What kills us is the graduation parties, parents who host and that sort of thing,” he told the county’s Traffic Safety Committee earlier last week.
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