FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – High school prom season is a busy time for alcohol enforcement teams throughout South Carolina as they work on the "Out of Their Hands" campaign.
The campaign is a statewide effort to keep people under age 21 from drinking alcohol. It is coordinated through each county's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Authority, and the campaign focuses mostly on prom nights.
"Young people sometimes have a difficult time making good choices anyway," commented Dawn Hancock, the Alcohol Enforcement Team Coordinator for Florence and Marion Counties. "As responsible adults, responsible businesses, and responsible community members we just want to remind everyone that we play a part in keeping alcohol out of the hands of underage youth."
In Florence County, Saturday is the night for prom for all three Florence School District One schools. Lake City High School students will also have their prom Saturday night.
As part of the prevention campaign alcohol enforcement officers will visit popular restaurants on prom night as well as every prom location. They hope to remind students to follow the law when it comes to drinking alcohol.
"We do want high visibility. That's very important," explained Hancock. "If we are there and present and visible we're hoping that will remain in the forefront of the youths' minds so that it helps them hopefully make some good choices."
Hancock said officers will also be patrolling neighborhoods looking for parties with underage drinkers.
The Florence County Sheriff's Office is also planning traffic safety checkpoints throughout April to check for underage drinkers.
"Our goal is not to put a bunch of kids in jail or write a bunch of tickets," Hancock said. "It is to save lives because we have seen so many tragedies in this area and in this state. We don't know what we've prevented by doing this, but we hope we've prevented a lot and saved a lot of lives."
Last year there were no reports of problems with underage drinkers on prom night in Florence County. That was an improvement from some previous years Hancock said, when some high school students have gotten in trouble or drinking. She said last year's results are a sign that alcohol enforcement efforts are working, and she hopes to see the same success this year.