Sometimes I cannot believe the irony in New Hampshire's motto, Live Free or Die.
There have been three articles in our local newspaper recently on the local police treatment of teen drinking (at least one of the articles can be found here).
These are not instances where youths under 21 have been drinking and driving. The most recent incident was one where a neighbor kid was walking home and the Hanover police stopped him. When asked if he had been drinking, he innocently but probably foolishly replied yes. Wham -- out came the handcuffs, and he ended up at the station. Now he gets to go through an education program that I suspect will create more ill will and cynicism on his part than anything else.
Another story relates how police broke up a late night high school party out on the Dartmouth golf course and subsequently chased kids all over town. Kids who were caught were allegedly asked to give out names of others who had been present, and those kids were then tracked down.
I think I am going to organize a concerned parents' meeting with the police to find out just what the laws are and how those laws are being interpreted. I know that New Hampshire can arrest teens for "possession by consumption" but can a teen really be forced to take a breathalyzer test, even if not driving? More important, does this community really believe that drug and alcohol problems will be solved by handcuffing and arresting first offenders? Is this how we want our local police to behave?
If my children were found on the streets of Hanover with beer on their breath, I would hope the Hanover police would simply drive them to my house and let me deal with the situation. That would be the first offense, and if they were caught subsequently, I could live with slightly harsher treatment by the police. But the policy now is that if an 18 year-old admits to drinking two cans of beer, she will get handcuffed and arrested. Does this start sounding like a police state or what?
There was a time when I had Libertarian dreams that smoking marijuana in the privacy of one's own home would be legal. Now it appears that I can't even offer my 18 year old daughter a glass of red wine at dinner without risking her ( and I suppose my own) arrest.