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Police Launch Campaign Against Underage Drinking

Law enforcement officers throughout South Carolina are encouraging young drivers to stay sober behind the wheel during the upcoming prom season. Behavioral health agencies have joined in the campaign to prevent alcohol-related juvenile crime. Authorities say the initiative is designed to lower the number of injuries and fatalities that are attributable to underage drinking every year throughout the state.

Officers will be conducting a variety of prevention activities throughout the area as prom season ramps up. These will include police escorts for prom limousines, parking lot patrols at local proms and other investigations. Officers will also be targeting local restaurants to make sure servers are complying with alcohol service regulations.

Authorities say they intend to focus on the "constructive possession statute," a regulation that makes it a crime for under-21 residents to possess alcohol products or even be at a party where underage drinking is occurring.

The campaign also intends to highlight some surprising new research that shows that female teens now outpace their male counterparts in binge drinking activity. Many teens who get into trouble with the law are "drinking to get drunk" while in a group of their peers. This paradigm shift from just a generation ago shows that more youngsters are drinking to the point of losing behavioral control. Binge drinking can also lead to the commission of other illegal activities, including sexual assault, robbery and vandalism, all of which can lead to juvenile criminal consequences.

Youngsters who are facing criminal action because of drinking violations should be aware that these convictions can have an impact on their future criminal record. Teens facing drinking allegations should consider pleading guilty to these relatively light charges, however, because underage possession and consumption charges rarely lead to hard jail time. By pleading guilty, youngsters can have their charges reduced or even dismissed, depending on the jurisdiction. Teens facing these charges should consult with their family members and legal representatives to determine their options.

Source: WBTW, "Pee Dee agencies warn teens, 'Don't let drinking ruin your prom,'" Patricia Burkett, March 19, 2013

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