Alcohol abuse rises at grad parties

Underage drinking causes legal consequences for both minors and hosts

Last year, 56 percent of teens reported their last use of alcohol occurred in someone else’s home, according to Students Against Destructive Decisions.

“It’s surprising how many parents enable students to have these graduation parties in their basement when the liability to them is quite large,” Security Specialist Jerry Griesbeck said. “It happens frequently here in the north, certainly more than it does in the south end.”

Underage drinking at graduation parties has serious legal ramifications for both students and parents.

Minors charged with possession of alcohol can face up to 24 months of probation and could carry their MIP (minor in possession) with them for the rest of their life, according to legislature in Michigan.

Adults who are charged with providing alcohol for minors can be punished by imprisonment for up to 30 days or by a fine of up to $1,000, according to the Drug Free Organization for Michigan.

“Parents can be arrested and cited for a misdemeanor as well,” Officer Kate Long of the Birmingham police department said. “They don’t even have to be present or aware of it going on. They are seen as the owners of the house and are unlawfully allowing it to continue.”

Any gathering that serves as a venue for the consumption of alcohol or drugs for persons under the age of 21 is considered an “Open House Party,” according to the state of Michigan’s legislation. These parties are illegal and the owners of the home, the parents, are held responsible.

“If we have any reason to believe minors are consuming alcohol on the premise we can go in and take action,” Long said. “We can and will arrest minors on site and write tickets for MIP’s.”

Bill Borgeil, father of a recent local graduate, dealt with difficulties after allowing underage drinking to happen at his daughter’s party.

“High school graduation parties can escalate into chaos very quickly,” Borgeil said. “At my daughter’s graduation party, one girl broke her nose within the first hour of the party and my set of golf clubs was thrown into the pond. By the time the party ended, there had been a fist fight and our entire basement was trashed.”

Stories like Borgeil’s are not uncommon and it is beginning to have an effect on students and cause them to second guess the idea of drinking at graduation parties.

“Teenage drinking is just getting out of hand,” senior Tyler Sanborn said. “Kids having grad parties need to realize in the end, it’s really not worth it .”