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Advice for teens and parents

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By Ted Mink

Young people today have to navigate a complex world and a complicated social scene. As law enforcement officers, we want to mitigate the dangers so that teens and young adults can safely enjoy their free time. We urge parents and teens to join us in doing so. Here are some issues to consider

 

Unsupervised parties

The Sheriff’s Office reminds parents and residents to be aware of potential risks involved in allowing teens to participate in or host unsupervised parties.

Each year, deputies respond to calls about parties hosted by underage youths in their parents’ homes — parties taking place without parental knowledge or consent. Often, these parties are intended to be small gatherings of close friends, but they quickly grow beyond the host’s ability to control. Word of mouth spreads rapidly through social networks, and uninvited or unknown people frequently show up.

Many of these parties have resulted in property damage, theft, assaults, juveniles being transported to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, and even more severe offenses.

Parents: Please use caution in allowing young people to host or attend unsupervised gatherings. A little caution can go a long way in preventing property damage or a trip to the emergency room. Let your neighbors know if you are going out of town and planning to leave your young adult at home alone.

Residents: Please call the Sheriff’s Office if you believe there may be an underage party with alcohol. While there is no law prohibiting underage people from hosting or attending lawful parties, your awareness may help prevent an unpleasant and unintended situation for your neighbors.

Teen driving reminders

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In an effort to reduce teen driving deaths, Colorado enacted graduated driver licensing laws. The following recap of teen driving laws is excerpted from the CDOT website.  

 

Passenger restrictions

Teens driving with a permit: No passengers other than a driving instructor, parent, legal guardian or a licensed adult age 21 or older (authorized by parent/guardian).

Teens driving with a license: For the first six months, no passengers under 21, unless a parent or other licensed adult driver is in the vehicle.

For the next six months, one passenger under age 21 (unsupervised). Siblings and passengers with medical emergencies are exceptions.

At any time, no more than one passenger is allowed in the front seat.

Cell phones and texting : Teens under 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. Teens can be fined and may risk losing their license. Exceptions include emergency calls to the police or fire department. Texting while driving is illegal for drivers of any age.

Curfew: For the first year as a licensed driver, teens must abide by a curfew — no driving between midnight and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by an instructor, parent or legal guardian. Exceptions include driving to/from school/work (signed statement from school/work required), medical emergencies and emancipated minors.

Alive at 25

Younger drivers have little experience behind the wheel, and when you factor in the many distractions they can face — like cell phones or peer passengers — practicing safe, defensive driving becomes even more difficult. The Sheriff’s Office is a proud participant in the Colorado State Patrol’s Alive at 25 program. Deputies and state troopers serve as instructors, teaching young people driver awareness in a four-hour classroom setting. You do not need to have a driver’s permit or license to attend. Learn more at www.liveat25.us.

Youth and law enforcement

Historically, the relationship between teens and law enforcement has often been antagonistic. Often their only contact occurs when the teen is in trouble. We’re striving to change that each day through the proactive work of our school resource officers, as well as our participation in programs and events like Take It to the Track, Safe2Tell, the new Youth Academy and the Cops vs. Kids basketball game tradition. Through these activities we’re able to make more positive connections with young people in a relaxed setting, and encourage them to make good decisions. Learn more about our youth-oriented programs at www.jeffcosheriff.com.