DOVER, Vt. (AP) – Up to 62 New Jersey high school students arrested at an underage drinking party in Dover over the weekend will be offered a chance to enter a court diversion program, officials said.

Anyone who chooses not to participate in the program must pay a $300 fine and have their driver’s license suspended.

On Monday, officials at Youth Services, Inc., a Windham County nonprofit that administers the program in the area, received 30 calls on behalf of the students, said Executive Director Allyson Villars.

After receiving a tip from New Jersey authorities on Friday, police rounded up approximately 110 teenagers from Randolph, N.J., at a weekend party at three rental houses, ticketing up to 62 for underage possession of malt beverage.

Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver said for the students with no prior problems with the law they would receive a civil ticket.

Police say the students rented three houses for a post-prom party, an annual tradition. Police say they seized 18 kegs of beer.

To participate in the youth alcohol program, the students must pay a $150 fine, complete 10 hours of community service and see a licensed alcohol and drug counselor for a drug assessment, Villars said.

The students would be able to accomplish those goals in New Jersey, but they would have to work with Vermont officials, she said.

“The biggest worry in intervention is to make sure that these youth and the adults around them know that underage drinking is not just a rite of passage. It could be a trigger to a long-term problem with alcohol and drugs,” Villars said. “Our whole thing is to help stave off their drinking until they are adults.”

Police are investigating who provided the alcohol, and if it was purchased in New Jersey or Vermont.

Dover Police Chief Robert Edwards said some of the teenagers drove to Vermont while others rode a chartered bus.

The three vacation homes were rented by teenagers aged 18 and 19, and not their parents, said George Lair, who operates the rental company Vermont Private Vacation Homes.

AP-ES-06-03-08 1719EDT


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