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Be safe

Published May 27. 2011 05:02PM

Last weekend as many as 32 students in a Montgomery County school district had to be sent home after showing up drunk at their prom.

At a time when graduating seniors are about to embark on their next step in life, this is not the kind of event that Methacton High School students, parents and district officials want their school or class to be remembered for around the state. Officials said some of the students were so intoxicated they couldn't stand on their own.

Investigators are trying to determine if an adult supplied the alcohol even before students arrived for the event at the Valley Forge Convention Center. The Methacton district is cooperating with outside authorities, and also conducting its own investigation.

This is the prime time of year for graduation parties. These joyful times, coupled with Memorial Day, known as the kick-off to vacation season, should be a time for sensible celebration, not an excuse to drink excessively. According to PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch, there were 44 alcohol-related crashes and three fatalities on Pennsylvania roads last Memorial Day weekend.

"We strongly urge people to arrange for a ride home before they begin celebrating, and make sure hosts take the keys from anyone who should not be driving," said Schock.

The Insurance Department and the Department of Transportation is also reminding residents who are planning Memorial Day parties to make sure their guests are not over-served alcohol and get home safely.

Hosts should offer plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and food, and stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends.

"While guests should always practice responsible drinking, hosts can be held negligent if a guest is involved in an alcohol-related incident while at your home or after leaving your party," Insurance Commissioner Michael F. Consedine warns.

He adds that social host liability offers insurance coverage for hosts serving alcoholic drinks to adults. Policies can be purchased for limits ranging from $50,000 to $2 million, which provide some coverage for claims arising from injuries that may occur in your home.

Here are some timely tips to help ensure a safe Memorial Day weekend:

• Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;

• Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;

• If you're impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely;

• If you see a drunk driver on the road, immediately contact local law enforcement; and

• If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to reach their destination safely.

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