ABC board combatting underage alcohol use

Published 12:29 am Wednesday, November 18, 2015

School Resource Officer Joe Schneider speaks at Opp High School Tuesday.

School Resource Officer Joe Schneider speaks at Opp High School Tuesday.

Alabama has an underage drinking problem.

That was the message from the Alabama Beverage Control Board at Opp High School on Tuesday.

ABC Assistant Administrator William Thigpen Sr., ABC Governmental Affairs Liaison Dean Argo, Covington County Schools School Resource Officer Joe Schneider and Alabama Citizens Action Program Education Director Dr. Bill Day spoke to students about the importance of not drinking and encouraged them to sign a pledge to not partake of alcohol until their 21st birthday.

Throughout the program, it was emphasized that it is illegal to drink if you are under 21; that minors can be arrested, fined and sent to jail for drinking or possessing wine, beer or liquor; that adults who provide alcohol to those under the legal age can also be arrested, fined and jailed.

Thigpen reminded students that they could lose their license for three to six months and be fined $100 to $1,000 for offenses related to underage drinking.

Additionally, he encouraged students not to purchase fake IDs.

Argo expressed the importance of students choosing not to drink until they are 21.

Argo said he said one of his high school friends went to prison because of alcohol.

“Alcohol today is the most abused and used drug in America,” he said. “Alcohol is a drug. Coca-Cola, water and Gatorade don’t make you feel tingly, slur your speech. That’s what drugs do.”

Argo said that 12 to 20-year-olds consume 12 percent of all alcohol consumed.

“That’s scary,” he said.

Argo said and most is binge drinking.

“Most don’t drink because they like the taste,” he said. “They drink to get intoxicated.”

Some 190,000 emergency room visits were for those under 21 who consumed alcohol last year, he said.

Argo said that 100,000 ladies were sexually assault by a date who had been drinking and 600,000 college students were injured while drinking.

On the high school level, 39 percent of high schoolers nationwide admitted to drinking; 22 percent to binge drinking and 8 percent to driving after; 24 percent admitted to getting into a car with someone who had been drinking.

“We have a real problem,” he said. “Forty percent of 9-12 graders admitted to drinking and 70 percent of 18-year-olds have. Statistics say we have a problem.”

Schneider told students if they are for alcohol related offenses, and are under 18, they will got to Dothan to the Department of Youth Services and their parents will have to visit them there and more. If they are 18-21, they will receive jail time, have to bond out and go to court.

He reminded students that if you’re under the age of 21, and your blood alcohol content levels are .02 and above you will be arrested.

“Alcohol affects people differently,” he said.

Day told students they shouldn’t drink, period. Not even when they are old enough.

Day said he lost a friend when he was 17. He said his friend was driving 102 mph under the influence in a convertible and was decapitated.

The kid was expected to go to college on a basketball scholarship.

Argo encouraged students to sign the pledge to not drink until 21.