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Long Island School Districts Get Tough, To Use Breathalyzers At Prom

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- For many, prom night means party night, and that often includes a lot of drinking.

More schools are taking no chances when it comes to getting kids to celebrate sober. Some are going so far as to use Breathalyzer tests.

CBS 2's Cindy Hsu took a Breathalyzer test Wednesday at South Side High School in Rockville Centre to further illustrate the point that school administrators are not messing around. Dr. Carol Burris is the school's principal and said before the school bought the breath tester it was a guessing game.

"Before you really had to decide if a student was under the influence of alcohol, really, based on seeing their behavior, smell and things like that," Dr. Burris said.

Now the Breathalyzer isn't the only deterrent. Weeks before the prom the principal has a meeting with all the seniors in the school, along with their parents. They talk about the zero tolerance policy on drinking. That meeting is mandatory for any student attending the prom.

And everyone, including the student, a parent, even the student's date, has to sign a contract that lays out the policy. If a student fails the sobriety test, the punishment is a five-day suspension, and they won't be allowed to take part in the graduation ceremony.

Christina Ortiz is a senior and said while it's a tough policy, she likes it.

"I think the Breathalyzer is necessary because we're teens and we need a deterrent and actual consequence so that we behave correctly," Ortiz said.

Dr. Burris said when you mix kids and alcohol it can make them feel invincible.

"They think they can jump off a bridge; they think they can go swimming when they're under the influence of alcohol. Maybe they leave a car while the car is in motion," Dr. Burris said.

She said the goal is to make prom night the best night of their life, not the last.

South Side bought the Breathalyzer more than 10 years ago and the principal said it's been a huge deterrent. So far, they've never had to test a student at prom. Before they had the breath tester at least one or two students a year would be sent home when they showed up at the prom drunk.

In all, 11 school districts on Long Island will be administering breath tests to students at their proms, WCBS 880 Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported.

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The Story


"I think it's the right idea to get kids to think about it, but kids will do what they're going to do," a Smithtown student named "Gary" told Xirinachs. "I mean, you can't throw everyone out of the prom."

"To start them early is definitely a good idea," added one parent who supports the plan.

Officials said just knowing you could be tested serves as a strong deterrent.

The other school districts reportedly administering breath tests are Cold Spring Harbor, Connetquot, Hewlett-Woodmere, Islip, Long Beach, Northport-East Northport, Shoreham-Wading River, Three Village and West Islip.

Do you support the prom breath tests? Sound off in the comments section below.

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