'Partybusters' fight underage drinking in the Pee Dee

DARLINGTON COUNTY, SC(WMBF) - One Pee Dee community is taking steps to fight underage drinking. The 'Partybusters' Hotline is up and running in Darlington County, but when people call in, they won't be talking to law enforcement.

It's almost as if your neighbors are on the other line.

The Community Action for a Safer Tomorrow Coalition, or CAST, is behind this new program.

Members say this is a, first time in the state, community hotline used to help prevent underage drinking and ultimately DUI's.

If you suspect there is underage drinking taking place in your neighborhood, you might think to call the police.

But the Darlington County CAST Coalition is offering up a different outlet.

It's called the 'Partybusters' Hotline.

Anytime, day or night, people can anonymously report suspicious activity of underage drinking or report any business selling alcohol to those underage.

"There's a high rate of underage drinking and driving under the influence that's why we were looking for something that would target especially underage drinking," said Denise Kelly who is a member of CAST.

The South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services gave the county $185,000 to put toward strategic prevention programs.

Darlington County CAST Coalition members surveyed children, adults and officers about the issue and found about 65-percent of them say parents and homeowners in the he area allow teens to drink in their homes under their supervision.

"regardless of how you feel about it, it's against the law to serve other youth in your home, but I do think it comes from a good place, it comes from a place of parents wanting to be a friends and just not realizing the dangers that go into that," said Kelly.

Deputies with the Darlington County Sheriff's Office say some people are hesitant to report those activities to law enforcement.

"It might be some social stigma calling the police on a party that you know somebody that's involved with... you're not calling police when you dial this number," said Sgt. Christopher Pittman of the Darlington County Sheriff's Office.

CAST Coalition members say depending on the seriousness of the situation, they may get the police involved, or just arrange safe rides home for the teens.

"Our main objective is saving lives and especially in our community because we know there is high incidents of it according to our data and we're making a positive impact so it's a way one person can possibly save one life," said Kelly.

The CAST Coalition is also using the grant money to help fund police-run high visibility checks, law enforcement training on the issue and community advocacy programs.

"We can only treat the symptom of the problem, but when the community gets involved and we get into a partnership with them, we truly can solve the problem where it begins," said Pittman.

Callers may report suspicious activity involving underage drinking anonymously.

CAST Coalition members will need information like where the event is taking place, if adults are involved and if there are any other specific dangers they should be aware of.

The line is open 24/7 at (843)861-2704.

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