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Police keep eye out for underage drinking

Spring is an exciting time for youth in South Carolina and all around the nation. High school students have the opportunity to celebrate their prom, the end of the school year and even graduation. These celebratory occasions can also lead to the temptation for underage drinking.

Fearing that underage drinking will lead to tragic events -- such as drunk driving car accidents -- South Carolina law enforcement is taking aim to curb this juvenile offense. In conjunction with the Tri-County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, in addition to the First Judicial AET Team, law enforcement in South Carolina is working to raise awareness that underage drinking is wrong and dangerous. The three entities have worked together to form a campaign called "Out of Their Hands".

Not only are these groups aiming this message to minors, but also the parents of minors who deem it acceptable for their children to drink as long as they are supervised. Law enforcement is sending a message that hosting underage drinking parties is both illegal and can put parents in risk of serious legal trouble if tragedy strikes as a result of the drinking.

Minors have to get the alcohol some how and a 2009 study showed that of the 35 percent of South Carolina students that reported they drink, 37 percent said they obtained alcohol through a third party. That act alone can carry legal ramifications.

Over the course of the next month, law enforcement will ramp up their efforts to slow underage drinking by conducting compliance checks and party patrols. One member of South Carolina law enforcement said that police often look for lots of cars and excessive noise as signs of parties where underage drinking might be taking place.

South Carolina, like any other state in the country, is not immune to underage drinking and the potential problems that can arise from it. Data showed that in South Carolina during 2006, 18 percent of drivers who were between the ages of 15 and 20 and were killed in traffic accidents had a blood alcohol level higher than the legal limit.

Source: The Times and Democrat, "Campaign targets underage drinkers, parents who provide alcohol," April 11, 2012

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