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Friend-helping teen's good intention leads to her being punished

Society doesn't abide drinking and driving. As the problem persists, legislatures in Virginia and everywhere else work to tweak drunk driving laws with the aim of curbing driving under the influence.

Special focus is put on reining in underage drinking. Minor in possession of alcohol offenses can result in harsh penalties. The consequences aren't just in the form of the immediate punishment. The long term effects of a now-existing criminal record can affect whole futures.

Concern about the DUI issue is so pervasive that it has led government entities at almost every level to come up with their own policies, and sometimes the result is a set of messages that become so mixed that it becomes impossible to know what right action is expected.

Readers can see this clearly in play in a case out of Massachusetts. According to the news story on the matter, a high-achieving high school senior recently got a call from a friend at a party who reported being too drunk to drive.

The girl, looking to do the right thing, went over to the party after getting off work to give the friend a ride home. Just after she arrived, the story goes, police showed up and started making arrests for underage possession of alcohol.

The helpful friend was cleared of any wrongdoing by police, but her high school administration was less forgiving. They informed the senior that she had violated the school's zero tolerance policy on alcohol use, so she was demoted as captain of the volleyball team and suspended for five games.

Not surprisingly, the general reaction among many families has been one of shock. Efforts are underway to try to get the school to reverse its decision. The argument offered is that the zero tolerance policy effectively delivers the message that students should not help other students who ask for help for fear of getting in trouble themselves.

Source: Boston.CBSLocal.com, "North Andover High Punishes Teen For Giving Drunken Pal Ride Home From Party," Bree Sison, Oct. 13, 2013

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