Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories



Maryland – December 15, 2002



of Problem










The OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative supports cooperation between community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned citizens to change local ordinances and enforcement practices.




Enforcement Matters

In Frederick County, Maryland, vigorous compliance checks have led to a

dramatic decrease in sales to minors and a reduction in alcohol-related

harm. In this community, determined leadership and effective enforcement

have made all the difference.

Frederick is near Washington D.C., and close to the

borders of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and


. Though not a large




had its share of

alcohol-related harm. Alcohol-involved crashes accounted for more than

2,000 injuries in the county every year?by far the leading violent crime

in that area.

Efforts to combat underage drinking in Frederick County began in earnest in

1999, with the creation of the Frederick County Underage Drinking and Drug

Prevention Task Force. Before then, enforcement efforts were sporadic and

minimal; for example, the County had never done compliance checks on all

of its 287 licensed alcohol retailers. Compliance checks were thus a

priority for the Task Force.

?We used compliance checks to wake the county up,? says Jean Byrd,

Coordinator for the Task Force. The initial compliance rate was miserable:

less than 40%. By last year, that had improved to around 60%. By this

year, the rate was more than 75%. In the course of these three years, the

Task Force has run at least one compliance check on nearly every licensee

in the county, and the checks have been backed up by stiff sanctions. Seven outlets

have been shuttered for repeated violations.

The County Liquor Board has been an important supporter of the Task Force; the Board

agreed to a new policy requiring display of notice of suspension on the doors of violator

outlets. Local police have gotten involved as well, attending and assisting with trainings

related to enforcing underage drinking laws. The Task Force also supports an active youth

group, which holds summits and festivals annually. The Task Force has been so effective that

even large national restaurant chains are requiring their Frederick stores to include server

training. Asked from where the initiative for this program comes, Molly Mitchell of the

Governor?s Office for Crime Control and Prevention replies, ?In a word, Jean Byrd.? 

Jean Byrd can recall a time in the 1980s when she attended six funerals in eight months, all for teens who died as a result of drunk driving. This experience is part of her motivation; ?You want to be able to drive down the road without being killed by someone who thinks it?s funny to break the law,? says Byrd. 

In her work, she has helped do just that; Frederick County saw no alcohol-involved youth fatalities during the last prom and graduation season, and no DWIs involving teens. Without question, Byrd has helped change Frederick, making it a safer, healthier place. 


more information,

contact Jean Byrd of the Frederick Co. UAD and Drug Prevention Task Force at 301-631-3289 or

[email protected]


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Underage Drinking: Success Stories
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