Breathalyzer test mandatory for prom attendees

Dolores High School students this year are already busy picking out the perfect date, the perfect dress and the perfect shoes for the April 20 Dolores High School Prom - all mandatory of course - but this year, students will have to do one more thing to get into prom.

Each student that attends the prom, to be held in the Dolores Main Gymnasium, will have to pass a Breathalyzer test.

High School teachers Dave Hopcia and Amy Woodward, who are this year's sponsors of the prom, told the Dolores School Board of Education Tuesday night there are a few changes to the prom this year.

First, students will not be served dinner.

Second, every student must submit to the Breathalyzer before entering.

If they test positive for consumption of alcohol, their parents will be called and they will sit out until their parents pick them up, Hopcia said.

A letter will be going out to the parents explaining everything, Hopcia said.

The theme this near is Neverland and tickets cost students $15.

The School Resource Officer Chris Barry will conduct the tests on the students entering at no cost to the school district.

Grand March for the prom begins at 8 p.m., the public is invited to attend the March.

"We want it to be a very safe happy evening," Hopcia said.

Some parents grumbled that it was a violation of the students' rights.

Hopcia said that it has never been done at the school.

"Everyone needs to be tested, but the test is very fast," Hopcia said.

Hopcia added that written permission is not needed if everyone knows ahead of time that the test will be given.

We do not need parent permission, Hopcia said.

Hopcia said that Barry told him that many schools use this technique, but when Cortez High School was contacted, they said they have a Breathalyzer on hand, but don't test every student that comes into a dance.

"We have one available and we have officers around. If we suspect anything, then we use it," Cortez High School Vice Principal David Robinson said.

In the five years that Robinson has been at the high school in Cortez, that method has worked.

"We underestimate the integrity of our kids," he said. "They are there to have a good time, not to get into trouble."

The Cortez High School prom is also on April 20.

To assist in alcohol-related conversations prior to prom, parents can visit

The comprehensive resource provides information ranging from how to bring up the issue of teen drinking, to prom-related texts parents can send to their teens and legal consequences of underage alcohol use.

Prom season is just around the corner and more than 1 in 4 Colorado high school teens has reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days - that's 53,511 Colorado teens - and 11.6 percent of teens in southwestern Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Human Services.

As a result, the Speak Now campaign, spearheaded by the Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health, is working to get the word out to get parents to have a conversation about the dangers of teen drinking before prom night. Speak Now's video, "How to Fail Prom," is geared toward getting parents to have this conversation with their teens, illustrating how an exciting night can have unfortunate results when alcohol is involved.