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Is this really the message we want to send  to prevent teen drunk driving?

student suspended for designated driving erin coxThere’s a story that’s all over the news. And as an attorney who has seen first-hand many incredibly tragic serious car accidents involving teen drunk drivers, I was frankly shocked when I first heard it.

First, what happened: A Massachusetts high school honor student named Erin Cox says she was stripped of her role as captain of the volleyball team and suspended for five games for showing up at a party – as a designated driver – to drive her intoxicated friend home, according to published reports

Cox drove to a party to pick up her friend, because her friend said she was too drunk to drive and requested her to drive. Shortly after, police arrived to break up the party and arrested 12 underage drinkers and handed out court summonses to many others.  Cox was cleared by police, as she said she didn’t drink and didn’t have any alcohol in her possession.

Apparently, North Andover High School in Massachusetts would rather have teenage drunk drivers drive themselves home.

So the school decided to send exactly the wrong message to all the other students at this school.

North Andover stated that Ms. Cox was in violation of the school’s zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use.  So they punished Cox anyways.

Our accident attorneys have written extensively about distracted driving and drunk driving, and how teens are the age group most affected by these dangerous behaviors behind the wheel. In fact, recent studies show that distracted driving has replaced drunk driving as the No. 1 killer of teen drivers.

Erin Cox is a student that we would want our own children to be like. She did the right thing and the responsible thing by going to help her intoxicated friend and helped to prevent a drunk driving car accident before it could ever happened. Yet Erin Cox is now being punished for being responsible by her school – the institution that’s supposed to protect students and teach them to be responsible and keep each other safe.

Teen drivers should be encouraged to turn to designated drivers, instead of threatening to harm everyone else on our roads.  Ms. Cox should not be punished.  She  should be thanked.


  1. Gravatar for david mittleman

    I read this and couldn't believe it...sent to my daughter who played volleyball in HS and would do the same w my blessing...this was flat our wrong...thnx 4 sharing Steve

  2. Gravatar for Brian

    I'm sure curious as to how the designated driver was in violation of the zero tolerance policy? She showed up at the party to specifically pick up someone who was intoxicated. So she was not attending the party, and she was not participating in the drinking. Yet the School determined she was in violation of it's zero tolerance policy. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Perhaps the school should read their own policy. I'm attorney and this situation confuses me. How did this student breach the policy when she did not attend the party except to pick up someone intoxicated and she was not drinking?

  3. Gravatar for Alice Walker

    If you just had to say, I'm only here to pick up a friend, wouldn't everyone say that? The police had to call for backup...they weren't giving out breathalyzer tests.

    I think she's going to do more to reduce under aged drinking by getting suspended than she ever would have by giving a drunk friend a ride home. I doubt too many football players from North Andover are at a party with drinking this weekend.

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