The Edmond Sun

March 15, 2013

Cops target spring break underage drinking

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — When area students are partying during spring break this next week, metro law enforcement officers will be targeting illegal underage drinking. Spring break in Edmond and Deer Creek will be from March 18-22.

The Oklahoma County Metro Alcohol Task Force consists of the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and police deparatments in Bethany, Forest Park and Midwest City. Deer Creek is under the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office.

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said the agencies will work together and conduct compliance checks of liquor/convenience stores, bar checks, identification checks and party patrols.

“Underage drinking is a serious problem in Oklahoma,” Whetsel said. “Across Oklahoma in 2011 there were 36 underaged drinking drivers who were killed or incapacitated.”

Whetsel said the task force members are also warning social hosts. If members find adults hosting parties for underage students they will be held accountable under the law as well.

The task force activities are kicking off during Spring Break, which is next week for most students.

Traffic safety supervisor Lt. Dan Stow said last year members interrupted a party of about 200 students and found one who was passed outside in a ditch and likely would have died with freezing temperatures.

Whetsel said it’s been three years since the task force was created, and they have seen 90 percent of businesses comply with not selling alcohol to minors.

Regarding underage drinking:

• Oklahoma ranks seventh in percentage of alcohol consumed by minors, according to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office;

• In 2010 state taxpayers paid $831 million in youth-related alcohol drinking issues such as traffic crashes, violence, health, treatment, property crimes, according to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation;

• 72 percent of Oklahoma high school students have consumed alcohol; and

• In 2009 minors consumed 20.4 percent of alcohol sold in Oklahoma. | 341-2121, ext. 108