Underage drinking can bring serious consequences 2011.11.16

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Life is all about choices, says Joan Clark, an enforcement agent with the Ohio Investigative Unit of the state’s Department of Public Safety, and you have to be smart about your decisions.

Agent Clark (not her real name) presented “The Sober Truth” program to two classes of Fayette students last week. Her goal is to make students aware of the consequences of underage drinking.

Why speak to seventh grade students?

“I can guarantee you’re going to hear about parties,” she said. “You’re going to be making big decisions about alcohol.”

Clark asked students if the school had a code of conduct for student athletes to sign. Hearing that it does, she asked a student what the code says.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “I didn’t read it.”

Students are walking billboards for their school, she said. 

“If you do something bad outside of school, it makes not only you look bad but also the school.”

There are several ways that officers in the Ohio Investigative Unit find out about what’s going on in Fayette, Clark said. Someone who gets kicked out of a party might become angry and report the event. Teachers hear a lot, she said, and will pass information along. 

Sometimes even parents will contact police, knowing their child will get arrested, because they would rather do this than later learn of of the child’s death.

Facebook also presents plenty of information. Kids post photos of people drinking.

“What do I call that?” she asked. “Evidence.”

Those photos could not only affect you criminally, Clark said, but they could become an impediment to entrance into college or in finding a job.

Clark ran through a typical scenario that her agency encounters.

The parents aren’t home so a child decides to have a party. Someone brings alcohol or drugs and the state police arrive with a search warrant.

“Local law enforcement agencies use discretion,” she said, “but we do not. Everyone at the party will go to jail for something.”

Not fair?

“Then don’t hang out at underage parties,” she said.

Possession of tobacco: $250 fine and up to 30 days at a juvenile campus.

Underage possession: $1,000 fine and up to six months at a campus.

“When you start using alcohol and drugs,” Clark said, “you find out who your friends are.”

If someone has a couple bottles of beer under the seat of a car, everyone could be arrested. If a police officer can smell alcohol on your breath, you’re considered under the influence.

“Ignorance of the law is not going to keep you from getting arrested,” Clark said.

She knows of a 17-year-old who was charged with the death of his best friend after furnishing alcohol. She knows of a woman who was asleep and unaware that her child and other youths were downstairs drinking. One of the guests died in a traffic accident and his parents sued the woman, who has since lost her house from her indebtedness.

“We’ve seen a lot of things we never thought we’d see,” Clark said, such as the alcohol poisoning of a BGSU student who was found foaming at the mouth—and dead.

“One bad decision can affect you forever,” she said. “You may hear this from teachers and parents; I can only tell you what I’ve experienced, so just be smart.”

 

Facts from the Ohio Investigative Unit:

• One-third of all citations issued to liquor permit holders involve sales to minors.

• A person under the age of 21 who presents a fake or altered ID or drivers license when purchasing alcohol may face a maximum fine of $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.

• If you are under the age of 21 and you purchase or share in the cost of alcohol, you may be arrested, taken to jail and ordered to pay a fine.

• 85 percent of high school students have had at least one drink of alcohol during their lives.

• 30 percent of high school students had their first drink, other than a few sips, before the age of 13.

• It is illegal for those under the age of 21 to be served alcohol by anyone other than their parent, legal guardian or a spouse of legal age.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017