Authorities work to keep Spring Breakers safe

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF)- Spring breakers are starting to flood Ocean Boulevard; students say they are excited that spring break and Saint Patrick's Day are coming together this year, and the Horry County "Community Action for a Safer Tomorrow" Coalition is ready for the weekend.

CAST Coalition Chairman and Horry County Police Sergeant Jeff Benton explains that it's not all about the punishment. The Coalition wants to educate young people about drinking. Instead of thinking it's all fun and games, Benton wants people to realize that alcoholism can start at a very young age.

"We don't want to have to make an arrest," Sgt. Benton said. "That's not the greatest thing there is in law enforcement. If we can actually go out and educate and help, I think that's why a lot of us do this as a career."

Benton also says that they often get tips from other students or neighbors. He says Coastal Carolina University works with the Coalition to make anonymous tip lines. These tips let them know where underage drinking and other potentially dangerous situations are happening.

The CAST Coalition understands that people come to Horry County for Spring Break, and they want them to have fun too. They do not want to see people under arrest for drinking. Sgt. Benton says fines and jail time can leave permanent marks on someone's record.

"What you do here could affect the rest of your life," Sgt. Benton said. "What happens here if you're arrested or charged could affect that scholarship or that job that you're applying for, you have lined up, or whatever your future may be."

Sgt. Benton urges people to take taxis if they are going to drink. He says people have different limits, and it is never a good idea to get behind the wheel, especially considering that most fatal accidents happen one to two miles from your home or destination.

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