Dangerous Drinking

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

August 14, 2006

It has unfortunately been a busy and deadly year when it comes to underage drinking in Central Virginia.

Monday night police said this year is an example of why teens and alcohol simply don't mix.

"It is not okay to serve alcohol to a minor, ever," said Cpl. Dana Robinson, of the Albemarle County Police Department.

She and her department are getting the word out. It's midway through a year that's had it's fair share of widely publicized drinking-related incidents.

On May 30th, 16 people were arrested at a party in Crozet. Fifteen of them were Western Albemarle High School Students. They were charged with possession of alcohol.

Just days earlier, on May 19th, a senior lacrosse player at Albemarle County High School was killed when his SUV went off the road on Thomas Jefferson Parkway. He was leaving a party where alcohol was allegedly served to minors.

Then over the weekend, a 16-year old from Fluvanna County High School was seriously hurt on the James River. He, too, was with a group of teens, allegedly drinking. Monday night he was in critical condition at UVA Medical Center.

Police said when it comes to teens and drinking, they have a no-tolerance policy.

"If anybody is found to have consumed alcohol underage, or is found to have had alcohol purchased for them by an adult, both are punishable by a fine and/or jail time," said Robinson.

Fines can be as much as $2,500, and jail time can be up to a year.

Police said there was good reason for the rules and the punishments.

"Juveniles have to be aware that not only is it against the law, but there are also other effects that come along with it," explained Robinson.

These effects were too apparent this season, and too many students and families this year have had to see for themselves.

This latest underage drinking incident comes just over a month after the state put into place tougher punishments for adults who provide alcohol to minors.

Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of high school seniors said they have consumed alcohol. Sales of alcohol consumed by minors totaled more than $300 million last year.

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