Team aims to curb underage drinking

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AIKEN --- Law enforcement is joining forces with Aiken County agencies and others to stop underage drinking.

"The idea, primarily, is to try and implement programs that are going to cut back, if not completely deter, underage drinking," said Harold Crawford, the coordinator of the Alcohol Enforcement Team in the 2nd Judicial Circuit. "It's a tremendous problem."

Working from an education perspective, the Alcohol Enforcement Team wants to inform youths, merchants and parents about the dangers of underage drinking.

"We're finding that the average (age) for them to start drinking is 12 to 13," Mr. Crawford said. He said children "who drink at an early age are more prone to become alcohol dependents."

The team conducts classes for merchants to teach them how to look at ID cards and how to deal with minors who try to buy alcohol or tobacco.

The Alcohol Enforcement Team and local law enforcement occasionally set up checkpoints to look for impaired drivers and test stores with an underage buyer to find out whether merchants are obeying the law.

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office, along with the Alcohol Enforcement Team, also conducts drug programs at schools.

Reach Michelle Guffey at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or


- Underage drinking costs the state $899 million per year.

- About 186,000 underage youths drink each year.

- 71 percent of students in grades nine through 12 have tried alcohol.

- In 2005, youths younger than 21 consumed an estimated 12.2 percent of the alcohol consumed in South Carolina, totaling $228 million in sales.

Source: The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation

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TWright987 02/15/08 - 09:36 am
Ga needs to do another sting

Ga needs to do another sting operation. My son, as much as I hate it, can walk in practically wherever he chooses and purchase ciggarettes, and he just turned 17. I don't condone it, but I can't be with him 24/7.

read this
read this 02/15/08 - 09:52 am
Stores that sell alcohol and

Stores that sell alcohol and cigarettes have had years of practice at preventing this from happening. I know because that is my business. However, we are at the mercy of the cashiers that are hired to make sure this practice IS prevented. In other words we train, we reinforce training, and many of us have secret shoppers of our own. And it still happens. Why? Because the kids are motivated and prepared with premeditation. The only way to stop it is to punish the kids as harshly as the government punishes the store and the cashier. This is another example of how the laws make criminals out of victims. We are fully aware that selling alcohol is a licensed priviledge. And that is why you are likely to be carded everytime when you buy in a convenience store, regardless how old you look. The problem with underage drinking starts in peoples homes. As they get older, the bigger problem is in the restaurants where customers are infrequently carded. At sporting events and outdoor festivals you will often see underage drinking in the wide open public. And the same arguments apply for cigarettes, too. It is always against my strict company policy to sell to underage customers.

FedupwithAUG 02/15/08 - 05:21 pm
You hit the nail on the head

You hit the nail on the head read this. A great perspective of what is the root of the problem with kids today, the parents and the lack of crimal prosecution to teen children.

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