Elkhart County Sheriff's Office

Parent & Teen Tips

Tips for Teens

Aren't beer and wine "safer" than liquor?

No. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about half of a cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcohol can make you drunk and cause you problems no matter how you consume it.


Why can't teens drink if their parents can?

Teens' brains and bodies are still developing; alcohol use can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. People who begin drinking by age 15 are five times more likely to abuse or become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking after age 20.

How can I say no to alcohol? I'm afraid I won't fit in?

It is easier to refuse than you think. Try: "No, thanks;" "I don't drink;" or "I'm not interested." Remember the majority of teens don't drink alcohol. You're in good company when you're one of them!

Isn't smoking marijuana less dangerous than smoking cigarettes?

No. It is even worse. One joint affects the lungs as much as four cigarettes.

Can people become addicted to marijuana?

Yes. Research confirms you can become "hooked" on marijuana.

Isn't smokeless tobacco safer to use than cigarettes?

No. There is no safe form of tobacco. Smokeless tobacco can cause mouth, cheek, throat, and stomach cancer. Smokeless tobacco users are up to 5 times more likely to get oral cancer than non-users.

Isn't methamphetamine less harmful than crack, cocaine, or heroin?

Some users get hooked the first time they snort, smoke, or inject meth. It can be made from lethal ingredients like battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel, and antifreeze, therefore increasing the chance of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or serious brain damage with the drug than with other drugs.

Isn't using methamphetamine like using diet pills?

No. Though it is easily attainable, methamphetamine is dangerous and addictive. Between 1993 and 1995, deaths due to meth rose 125 percent. Between 1996 and 1997, meth-related emergency room visits doubled. Use by 12 to 17 year olds has increased dramatically in the past few years.

Parties in Your Home

A person who furnishes alcohol may be liable for monetary damages in a civil lawsuit. The host of the party is committing an illegal act by serving liquor to a minor.

It is a misdemeanor for anyone to knowingly sell or furnish alcohol to a person under 21 years of age, or fail to make diligent inquiry as to whether a person is less than 21. You could be convicted of a Class B Misdemeanor for contributing to a minor.

A parent or homeowner who allows possession and/or consumption of alcohol or other controlled substances by anyone under the age of 21 may be subject to criminal prosecution and fines. You could be convicted of a Class A or Class B Misdemeanor. It is a Class D Felony if the consumption, ingestion, or use of the alcoholic beverage is the proximate cause of the serious bodily injury or death of any person.

It is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to have alcohol in their possession, to consume, or to transport alcohol. If the minor possesses, transports or consumes alcohol while operating a vehicle, then his or her license may be suspended for up to one year. However, if the minor is less than 18 years of age, the court shall order the minor's driver's license suspended for at least 60 days. It is a Class C Misdemeanor for a minor to knowingly possess, consume or transport alcohol.

Information gathered using INSROANASRO and Drug Free America Foundation, Inc.

What happens when a police case is filed on my Child?

Information given by Deputy Prosecutor, Holly Curtis

Once a police report has been submitted to the Prosecutor, a decision is made with how to proceed. If it is the child's first offense or it is a status offense (such as runaway, habitually disobedient, truancy, or Illegal Consumption of an Alcoholic Beverage) then an informal deferral known as an Informal Adjustment is usually pursued. That means the State refers it to the Juvenile Probation to have the child referred to a program versus filing formal charges. Those programs range from Teen Court, Guided Family Intervention Program (known as GFIP), Anger is Manageable (AIM), Stopskipping Program, and Shoplifting Clinic through Bashor. Drug and alcohol education programs as well as the Adoloscent Victim Impact Panel may be used for referral. The child could be referred for community service or a truancy program. In onther circumstances, the child may be referred for just a Warn & Release, which will mean they will be warned if their behavior does not change that they could be faced with charges in the future. All of the programs are referred out by the Juvenile Probation Department, who will monitor compliance.

Once a child has been in informal programs or failed the programs they were referred to, or had a particularly serious offense. The next step is the State filing a Formal Delinquency Petition. Once the Petition is prepared, Juvenile Probation has to prepare a Preliminary Inquiry to be filed with the Petition. Probation usually has that process done in four weeks. Probation contacts the family to set up an intake appointment to gather information and provide their recommendations for what services they feel are necessary. If it is the child's first formal offense, the normal sanction would be Six Months Good Behavior status. However, if the child needs additional resources, then formal probation supervision may be offered. Once the child has had a prior Six Months Good Behavior and has committed a new offense, the next step is usually formal probation supervision. There is also a more intensive probation supervision for kids that need a higher level of services. Sentences can also range to residential treatment and depending on the age of the child, time in a locked, secure facility. The ultimate step is usually the Indiana Department of Corrections. Rehabilitation is the main focus of juvenile system as the goal is both to help the child and to keep them out of the adult system.