Agencies stepping up to curb underage drinking this prom season

GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) - It's prom season, a time when underage drinking is on the rise, so this month, the Alcohol Enforcement Team and CAST, Community Action for a Safer Tomorrow, will be increasing enforcement to try and curb the problem. They are taking the time to visit area high schools to educate youth on the dangers of alcohol use. They will also add more driver checkpoints across the Grand Strand.

It doesn't just stop here.

Friday, law enforcement officers from Horry, Georgetown and Charleston counties joined forces at the Georgetown County Sheriff's Department for training. Officers focused on getting to the root of underage drinking, the point of purchase. Experts insist this is where the problem starts and where the problem can best be controlled.

At the training, officers learned what to look for, and what questions to ask. They also learned how to find out through the kids' cell phones and social media.

The big question law enforcement across several counties wants to answer is: where are these kids getting the alcohol from? When it comes to underage drinking, fake IDs aren't the only issue. More and more parents, older siblings or family members, or even friends are purchasing alcohol for them. That's why police are on a mission to come up with a new strategy to take the drinks out of your kids' hands.

If you get caught, you will pay the price. For a fake ID, the fine is up to $240 and if you're a restaurant not checking IDs and sell to a minor, expect to shell out more than $500. If an adult gives alcohol to a child, they will pay up to $677. For police, this issue goes beyond fines - it's a matter of life and death.

"When there's a dead body or a kid who has jumped over the balcony and is paralyzed, parents want the answer. Law enforcement has to be able to provide that answer," says AET Coordinator for the 16th Circuit, Elizabeth Clark.

It's easy to point the issue at tourists, but police say this is a huge local problem, they say just because you don't hear about fatalities, doesn't mean the issue is not there- alcohol is killing 85 kids in our state each year.

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