WPD, liquor store team up to fight underage drinkingWORTHINGTON — According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), alcohol is the most commonly used drug among minors. Still, many adults turn a blind eye to underage drinking, even going so far as to provide beer and booze to those who are not old enough to buy it themselves.
By: Justine Wettschreck, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), alcohol is the most commonly used drug among minors. Still, many adults turn a blind eye to underage drinking, even going so far as to provide beer and booze to those who are not old enough to buy it themselves.
But in Nobles County, anyone charged and convicted of giving alcohol to a minor may have to find another place to purchase their own in the future, because the Worthington Municipal Liquor Store (WMLS) won’t sell it to them.
“If you are convicted of furnishing alcohol to a minor in Nobles County, you are banned from purchasing alcohol at the municipal store for a year,” explained Worthington Police Officer Darin Vossen. “You will get a letter in the mail from me, and your name and mug shot will be given to the liquor store.”
The liquor store already has the right to refuse service to anyone, and according to manager Shaun Johnson, that is exactly what they will do.
“As long as the authorities can supply us with a picture and give us a statement that they want this person withheld from purchasing alcohol for a period of time, we’re going to honor that,” Johnson said. “If they are buying alcohol for minors, we don’t want them here.”
A Minnesota statute states it is unlawful for any person to sell, barter, furnish or give alcoholic beverages to a person under 21 years of age. Doing so is a gross misdemeanor, or if the consumption of alcohol by a minor leads to a death or great bodily harm, the person who handed the alcohol to the minor could face felony counts.
There is also a civil law that applies to damages caused by illegal furnishing, so the person who furnished the alcohol could find themselves facing a civil suit.
Johnson said the idea of not selling to a person convicted of giving alcohol to minors is a good one.
“I think it is something that is probably needed,” he stated. “It is not our line of business to serve minors. We are here to make money for the city, but as a community-minded business, it is our job to protect kids.”
In 2006, more than 4,000 people under the age of 21 were cited for driving while impaired (DWI) in Minnesota.
The 2006 Minnesota Impaired Driving Facts report states 10 percent of all people cited for DWI in Minnesota were underage.
The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) states the cost of underage drinking in Minnesota in 2005 exceeded $915 million. The costs include medical care, work loss and pain and suffering costs. Among teen mothers, fetal alcohol syndrome alone cost Minnesota $13.2 million.
Annually across the United States, about 5,000 youths under 21 die from motor vehicle crashes, other unintentional injuries and homicides and suicides that involve underage drinking. Two-thirds of sexual assaults and date rapes among teens and college students are alcohol-related, and almost half of teen suicides involve alcohol. Other problems related to underage drinking include sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, school delinquency, failure and dropout, depression, psychological difficulties and homicide.