Underage Drinking: Success Stories

         

Underage

Drinking: Success Stories

 

 

Colorado – August 14, 2003

 

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With support from the OJJDP

Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative, community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned citizens are working collaboratively to

change local ordinances and enforcement practices.

 

Jammin? without the Booze

 Country Jam USA is an annual summer outdoor 4-day music event

that draws more than 30,000 spectators each day to the venue located 20

miles outside of Grand Junction, Colorado. According to local community

coalition members, the festival fostered an environment that encouraged

excessive drinking by all participants, especially among those concerts

goers younger than age 21. Determined to reduce youth access, prevention

groups and law enforcement officials decided to proactively address their

concerns and bring about positive change.

In March 2002, members of the Mesa County Sheriff?s Office and the Fruita

Police Department came together with members of Mesa County Build A

Generation, the Mesa County Health Department, and Drug-Free Mesa County

in an effort to begin seriously addressing underage drinking in the

community and create a task force. Other members of the task force

included emergency room doctors, state liquor inspectors, health

organizations, educators, event planners, and vendors.

Based on problems identified in previous years, the following changes to

the festival?s social environment were implemented: specially marked arm

bands to indicate underage attendees at the festival; no keg beer was

allowed in the campground; serving of only one drink per customer at the

bars; posting an anti-underage drinking banner at the entrance/exit to the

festival?s campground, physically separating the ?partying? from the

family campground, and broadcasting an anti-underage drinking television

message on the festival?s ?Jumbotron.?

The Sheriff?s Office, in consultation with the 21st Judicial District

Attorney?s Office and the Chief District Attorney, organized a

multi-agency law enforcement team specifically to target underage drinking

at the festival. The Task Force also began an intense media campaign that

warned of the new measures and the increased enforcement.

The results proved the efficacy of the implemented strategies. In 2002,

only one juvenile was transported to area hospitals for over consumption

of alcohol, compared to 2001 when 60 juvenile transports were reported.

Underage drinking citations increased from 3 in 2001 to 152 in 2002.

?This single endeavor not only brought about substantial savings to the

taxpayers of Mesa County for emergency room-related costs (a minimum of

$800 per visit not including those youth that required stomach pumping,

IVs, hospital admission, and transport costs), but more importantly,

reduced the potential for harm to our youth,? stated Drug-Free Mesa County

co-chair Ruth Michels. She added, ?Clearly, a community that takes a

unified, proactive approach can make a difference in its youths? decisions

about alcohol use?.

For more information, contact Ruth Michels,

Drug-Free Mesa County at

[email protected].

 

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Underage Drinking: Success Stories
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