As part of a countywide effort to prevent alcohol and drug-related automobile accidents during the high school prom and graduation party season, a group of Fairfax parents plans to hold an alcohol-free dance for adults May 3.
"We're kind of telling the kids to get with it -- that in this day and age health is in and alcohol-free dances are in," said Connie Kepner of the Parents Association to Neutralize Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the Fairfax group sponsoring the dance.
PANDAA, which has a 5,000-member mailing list and is affiliated with the National Federation of Parents, has scheduled the dance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, and tickets at $8 ($15 a couple) will be sold at the door.
Fairfax County officials also are working with high school student organizations and business and community groups to prevent drunk driving during the spring party season.
"The biggest deterrent for us is that if kids get caught intoxicated at school activities, there's an automatic 30-day suspension, and that would include graduation for the seniors," said Richard Crowley, guidance director and prom coordinator at Fairfax High School. "That has had a tremendous impact."
Fairfax County's publicity program against drunk driving, Project Graduation, is being coordinated with a metropolitan-wide effort sponsored by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP).
Other activities in the regional program are:
Police-sponsored drunk driving awareness assemblies in all Maryland, Virginia and D.C. metro area high schools.
An alcohol-free dance for all Prince George's County high school students on Friday at theRitchie Coliseum, the University of Maryland, College Park, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
A drunk driving awareness day at Rockville High School on May 1 at 7:30 p.m., sponsored by Students Against Drunk Driving.
In the last two years, there have been no alcohol-related automobile accidents or deaths involving Fairfax County students during prom season, said Jerry Stemler, the county's Driving While Intoxicated program coordinator.
However, two persons under age 21 died in alcohol-related traffic deaths in Fairfax County in 1984, and 10 died during each of the two preceeding years.
Nationwide, drivers under the age of 21 constitute 10 percent of licensed drivers and 9 percent of vehicle miles driven, yet they are involved in 20 percent of the alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to WRAP.
Project Graduation's efforts to curb drunk driving will include publication of a telephone number -- AAA-LIFT -- so students can be assured a safe free ride home.
In Virginia, 19-year-olds may purchase beer; however, a bill passed by the General Assembly in the 1985 session will raise the beer-drinking age to 20 by July 1986 and to 21 by July 1987. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or be served other alcoholic beverages in Virginia.
In the District, the drinking age is 18 for beer and light wine; however, it is illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase or be served other alcoholic beverages.
In Maryland, the drinking age is 21 for all alcoholic beverages.