Police working to ensure graduation parties are safe celebrations

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Students at Grove City High School spent part of the week behind the wheel of a drunk driving simulator that mimics the reaction time of an impaired driver.

The Grove City Police Department outfitted students with goggles designed to simulate a blood alcohol level over three times the legal limit.

"It's really hard to see," laughed student Emily Burt as she tried to maneuver the simulator course. Police said it's no coincidence teens are getting behind the wheel of the simulator just before graduation weekend.

"We know that there's going to be alcohol, we know that there's going to be parties, said Tom Durflinger, who is the supervisor of Grove City Police Community Relations.

Crime Tracker 10 requested police reports for alcohol-related crimes from six Columbus suburbs during their respective high school graduation weekends in 2017.

Hilliard and Grove City police each charged one person with OVI. The Westerville Division of Police reported two OVI arrests. Gahanna Police cited three adults, and Dublin police made two OVI arrests.

Dublin also cited five teenagers out of one incident for underage possession or consumption of alcohol.

In Upper Arlington, police charged two people with OVI. One of the suspects was under the age of 18.

It's not clear whether these cases were the result of graduation celebrations, but the Grove City Police Special Operations Bureau is taking a proactive approach.

CrimeTracker 10 teamed up with undercover officers as a 19-year-old man who asked not to be identified attempted to buy alcohol at a dozen gas stations and carryouts across Grove City.

The teen visited a dozen locations, and every one of them turned him down. One store clerk even threatened to call the police.

Law enforcement intervened to congratulate the clerk for doing the right thing.

Police said it's becoming increasingly difficult for teenagers to buy alcohol or tobacco because more businesses are relying on software that scans a driver's license or state ID much like scanning groceries at the store.

The scanner alerts the clerk if a customer isn't 21 years old.

Grove City Police remind parents it's illegal to give alcohol to your teen's friends under the age of 21, even in the privacy of your home.

Police said if you break the law you could face a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Police said you could also be held liable in a civil suit if you give alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, and they, in turn, hurt someone or damage property.