Tuesday, June 3
DOVER -- Approximately 62 New Jersey high school students will be entering the Youth Services Diversion program after a large underage drinking party was busted over the weekend.

Approximately 110 teens from Randolph, N.J., were given an alcosensor test and 62 were cited for possession of 18 kegs of beer, 16 bottles of vodka, six cases of beer and other miscellaneous bottles at the Friday night post-prom party.

Now the cases will fall to the Teen Alcohol Safety Program, which spent most of the day Monday on the phone answering questions from parents and students.

Youth Services Executive Director Allyson Villars said each of the 62 citations must be entered into a statewide database and each student sent a packet of forms and information.

Villars said this was the biggest group from one party she has seen come through the program.

The scope was larger than anything the Dover Police Department has dealt with so far, as well, Chief Robert Edwards said. "By the time we got the last people, it was about 5 in the morning. A lot said they had been drinking, but had sobered up. It was a pretty large undertaking for us. Fortunately, the kids were pretty well behaved."

Villars said the office was pushed to the limits Monday responding to phone calls, but the staff had decided at a meeting that morning to continue giving the same individualized attention to each case.

The official paperwork will not begin until the tickets come in, she said. In the meantime, the office is rushing to close up as many big cases as possible to free up time.

"There is stress on the staff and that does mean for a period of time we're really working diligently to get back to everyone to let them know how this works and relieve some of the anxiety," she said. "We brainstormed a number of solutions that would have been more efficient, but the staff wants to be more effective."

This did not mean some students might not wait to be addressed, she said. "We won't put anyone through the program where we're not doing our due diligence. It's too important, too risky, for them. If people have to wait because they did this behavior, we'll put them on hold. I don't know if anxiety is bad if it helps them think about the potential consequences of their behavior."

Villars explained that the cases are more important than the numbers. "It's what's going to happen to them if they don't get a handle on their behavior. The issue is for us to help make them see that this could be a potential problem for them. We're taking it one case at time, we're not going to give anyone any short shrift."

Each student who chooses to go through the Diversion Program must pay a $150 fine and complete 10 hours of community service. They are each required to see a licensed alcohol and drug counselor and get an evidence-based alcohol and drug assessment.

In this case, New Jersey students may opt to find a counselor in their area, but must still complete all recommendations, which may mean additional treatment.

All these steps must be documented with Youth Services.

If a student chooses not to participate, they must pay a $300 fine, have their license suspended and face car insurance increases.

Edwards and Villars both said this case should serve to make parents and teachers think about the reality of underage drinking.

While some reported to police Friday that there were parents up with them in the area, this was not substantiated and none were at the house.

The group as a whole had rented the vacation buildings, Edwards said, a tradition the students said has been going on for the past five or six years.

Edwards said police are still investigating how a group of high school students were permitted to sign contracts for the buildings and how aware owner George Lair was of the events held at the houses.

The company's Web site claims: "Our homes are the perfect get away for the youngsters. We frequently get requests to have high school and college graduation parties. We can't think of any place better."

Nicole Orne can be reached at norne@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.