OCTOBER 18, 2013
Erin Cox, a North Andover teen, is currently facing punishment from her high school after driving a friend who was too drunk to drive home.
A few weeks ago, Erin answered a call from one of her friends who was at a party and too drunk to drive home. Erin went to the party after work to give her friend a ride home. However, only minutes after she arrived at the party the police came. Several underage kids were busted for possessing alcohol. Everyone who was at the party received a summons for ‘minor in possession’.
Erin is an honors student at North Andover High School and was cleared at the scene by the police. They agreed that she did not possess alcohol and was not drinking. However, her school decided that she was in violation of the district’s zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use. During her senior year, Erin faced a demotion from her position as volleyball caption as well as a five game suspension.
Now, the Cox family is taking their daughter’s case to court. They filed a lawsuit in District Court against the school district. The school district disputed an injunction of any type, and the judge in the case ruled the court did not have jurisdiction. North Andover superintendent Kevin Hutchinson would not discuss the case, but says that decisions like this are made to be consistent and fair with the Massachusetts Interscholastic Association rules.
Outside the legal system, parents of Erin’s volleyball teammates have created a petition to show their support. Erin’s parents stand behind their daughter’s position. Her mother, Eleanor Cox, is devastated because her daughter thought she was doing the right thing.
The laws in Massachusetts that involve minors and alcohol are very strict. For instance, any teenager who operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .02 or more faces a license suspension lasting at least 30 days and as long as three years. It can also greatly impact the teenager’s ability to be admitted to a school or find employment.
On top of that, students often face punishments for violations of school district alcohol policies. The strict policies can be interpreted in some cases to punish innocent teens like Erin Cox.
Cox has said that she still stands behind her decision to go get her friend. She believes she prevented her friend from driving while drunk and potentially hurting herself or someone else.