first_imgLANCASTER – Sheriff’s deputies will conduct extra patrols next week and check parties for underage drinking to combat high school graduation-time traffic fatalities. Lancaster and Palmdale deputies will patrol the streets and keep an eye on parties to make sure they don’t get out of control after the graduations at local public high schools, which will begin May 31. “What we’ve done and continue to do is saturate the streets and make it as safe as we can. I do believe we save lives,” said David Vierra, superintendent of the Antelope Valley Union High School District. The district, in a joint news conference with deputies Wednesday, announced the ninth annual Safe and Sober Graduation program. “There’s a lot of revelry, a lot of partying going on. Unfortunately, alcohol plays a part in this,” said board President Tom Pigott, a former Lancaster sheriff’s station commander. “You have the combination of alcohol, lack of driving experience and the exuberance of youth. And you end up with tragedy.” Eight deputies will be at each of the graduations at the seven comprehensive high schools, and valleywide 16 additional deputies will be part of the increased enforcement. In addition, in Palmdale, eight Partners Against Crime deputies and one patrol car will enforce alcohol laws, monitor curfew violations and look for impaired drivers. “The message is not only not to drink and drive, but not to get in a car with anyone who’s been drinking,” said Capt. Carl Deeley, commander of the Lancaster station. Parents or others who deputies find have provided alcohol to teenagers will be cited, Deeley added. They also face liability if someone they served gets into an auto crash, he said. Lancaster High School graduating senior and valedictorian Scott Lee urged his fellow seniors to avoid alcohol during their graduation celebrations. “Our lives are just beginning. The time is now to become mature adults. Let’s make that the first choice – to exclude alcohol to prevent danger to yourself, peers and family,” Lee said. Vierra said every graduating senior will be given a yellow rubber wristband that carries the message “Don’t Drink and Drive.” More than 3,500 students are expected to graduate May 31 from Antelope Valley, Knight and Quartz Hill high schools, and June 1 from Highland, Lancaster, Littlerock and Palmdale high schools. It also was announced that Saturn of Antelope Valley will give away a 2007 Saturn Ion, outfitted with a sound system, to one graduating senior as part of a “Be Cool, Stay in School” campaign. The dealership also will provide a $2,000 scholarship to one student at each of the high schools, dealership President Lou Gonzales said. To qualify for the free car and the scholarships, students had to have a grade-point average of 2.6 or higher, good citizenship and a minimal number of absences, Gonzales said. Gonzales also pledged to dedicate $10,000 worth of advertising on the Safe and Sober campaign next year. [email protected] (661) 267-5744160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more