Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories






31, 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.



WV, Cooperation is Crucial

West Virginia?s Alcohol Beverage Control Administration (WV ABCA) has begun working

with local law enforcement to combat underage drinking. Through a

combination of cooperation, technology, and media awareness, the WV ABCA

is helping reduce sales and service to minors.

West Virginia

has not been known for its enforcement of underage drinking laws until

recently. Indeed, WV ABCA?a branch of the Department of Revenue?did

little enforcement. However, with the inauguration of Governor Wise in

2001, enforcement became a priority for the ABCA. 

To manage their enforcement efforts, the ABCA hired David Plantz as

Director of Enforcement. Plantz had retired from the State Police after 27

years but gladly reentered public service.



attributes the increased emphasis on enforcement to several factors,

including the emergence of underage drinking as a larger national issue.

The emphasis is also driven by local changes; says Plantz, ?We?re

seeing binge drinking unlike we?ve ever seen.?

 One of West Virginia?s most important tools in combating underage drinking has been

compliance checks. The checks are conducted in conjunction with local law

enforcement and the state police. The scale of these checks is stunning;

in a typical day, officers might visit dozens of outlets in one or two

counties. WV ABCA is also conducting targeted sweeps that check on-premise

establishments for underage patrons.  These

operations typically involve ABCA agents, State Police, and local

sheriffs? departments or other law enforcement. 


The change in ABCA also includes

increased use of technology. All liquor licenses include a bar code and

ABCA inspectors use handheld scanning devices that  read

the code and can recall the licensee?s file instantly. The scanners can

also be used to input data, thus reducing paperwork and turnaround time

from inspections. The scanning devices have been deployed for licensee

inspections, compliance checks, and sobriety patrols. The ABCA?s goal is

to provide one to every officer working in liquor law enforcement.  

Also important to ABCA efforts is the effective use of media. Compliance

check operations are followed by press releases naming outlets that passed

the test, as well as outlets that failed. These press releases frequently

become articles in local newspapers, giving citizens awareness of the

enforcement efforts in their community. 


WV ABCA?s shift in priority

signals a significant commitment to tackling the problem of underage

drinking. With compliance checks being conducted in every county, the ABCA

is already doing much to reduce underage drinking; but, says Plantz,

?We?re just getting started.?


more information, contact David Plantz, Director of Enforcement for WV

ABCA, at 304-558-2481 or [email protected].


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