ABC wants to bring state underage drinking program

Published 9:48 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Alabama Beverage Control Board has a message for local teenagers and their parents: Underage drinking is illegal and law enforcement is cracking down. Eddie Lard, coordinator of the Under Age, Under Arrest Program, spoke to members of the Children’s Policy Council Coalition on Tuesday.

Lard said the program started four years ago, after the ABC Board recognized there was a problem with under age drinking.

Lard said it was important for the ABC Board to have its own program designed to combat underage drinking.

“Two-thirds of every college student drinks alcohol on a regular basis,” he said. “By the time a kid graduates from high school, 70 percent of them have tried alcohol, and 26 percent are regular drinkers.”

He said they want to get two messages across to students through the program:

  • Alcohol is dangerous. It is a dangerous, mind-altering drug; and,
  • The LEOs in this state take underage drinking very seriously. “We lose kids every year in this state from underage drinking,” he said. “College is worse. College results said that 3 million admit to drinking and driving.”

Lard said that more people die from alcohol than opiods and all other illicit drugs.

He said that if you are underage and you are caught drinking or with alcohol, there is a zero tolerance for that.

“If your blood alcohol content is 0.02 percent you will be arrested and charged with DUI, if you are under 21.”

The ABC Board partners with groups such as MADD, SADD and American Character Builders to go into schools.

“Mothers Against Drunk Drivers tell the story of how they lost someone to drunk driving,” Lard said. “The kids get quiet and they pay attention. They are connected at that moment.”

Lard said that they are trying to bring the free program to as many high schools as possible.

“Kids have a lot going on with spring break, prom, weekends and summer,” he said. “Field parties are big.”

Lard said it’s very important that they reach these kids.

He said the program is 55 minutes long and they hope to do these as assemblies in high schools and middle schools.

“It’s a very good program,” he said.

Dean Argo, government relations manager for the ABC Board, said that they would love to get in local schools.

“We would like for local folks to help us,” he said. “We have brought the program to 50,000 kids so far.”

Argo said that it’s important for parents and other adults to understand that adults who provide alcohol to those under 21 can be arrested, fined and jailed.

He said that he gets a few calls every year from parents letting him know that they will be having a house party for kids and providing alcohol, but that they are taking the keys.

“You aren’t supposed to be giving it to kids,” he said. “We hope that this program also helps kids educate their parents.”

Any schools interested in bringing the assembly may call Lard at 205-746-3274 or email him at