Teen drinking: Still common

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Last month, 19-year-old T.C. Williams graduate Samuel Ian Roberts was court-ordered to surrender his drivers license for six months, attend a program on alcohol safety and prevention, and pay a $100 fine for having consumed alcohol while underage and then operating a vehicle. 

Although Roberts best friend, T.C. senior Greg Berry, ultimately died from injuries sustained when Roberts crashed his car on Janneys Lane, charges of driving under the influence, reckless driving and involuntary manslaughter were all dropped. The story of this fatal accident and Roberts sentence makes one wonder how T.C. students feel about teen drinking and drunk driving.

The sources for this article are all male T.C. students; their names have been changed to respect their wish to remain anonymous. Two female students were also contacted for comment, but neither responded.

According to 18-year-old senior Jake, most teenagers do not start drinking until they reach T.C. However, there are some early birds that start in ninth grade, said Jake. As to where kids get alcohol, Jake said most have older friends who buy drinks for them or use fake IDs themselves. Every once in a while, there is a parent who will buy, he added.

Seventeen-year-old senior Ryan said most drinking occurs at parties where the hosts parents are out of town or out for the night.

Some people choose to drink only at parties, while others make it a more regular habit, maybe a few times a month, said Ryan. According to senior Sam, also 17, there is usually a place where kids drink every Friday or Saturday.

The drink of choice is typically beer, but there is, occasionally, liquor, said Sam.  On an average night, a guy [may] drink seven beers, while girls usually have around four or five. While this number may seem high, Jake gave roughly the same estimate in a separate interview.

When asked about parents responses to teen drinking, Jake, Sam and Ryan gave similar answers.

The main reason that kids get away with drinking is that their parents are lenient and dont ask them about their night plans, said Ryan. Added Jake, Some parents just look the other way.

While teen drinking seems to be widely accepted at T.C., driving while under the influence is a more contentious topic. All three boys said that while they have never driven home after drinking, it is common for kids to drive after having consumed a few alcoholic drinks. I guess thats a risk some are willing to take, said Ryan.

The boys are not indifferent to drunk driving, however. If someone has obviously had too much to drink, said Sam, my friends and I will approach him and say, You definitely cant drive home, well get you a ride. 

The issue of teen drinking and driving is by no means a local problem. The topic arose when T.C. students traveled this summer to Alexandrias sister city, Dundee, Scotland.

The kids from Dundee, as well as those from Wurzburg, Germany, and Orleans, France, all had the problem of teen drinking and driving in common with us, said senior Anthony Snead.

Next week: What T.C. Williams and parents are doing about teen drinking.

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