Stopping underage drinking at shore

June 24, 2008 3:49:53 PM PDT
Underage drinking at the shore has become a big problem and officials are planning to do something about it this summer. Some consider teen drinking at the Jersey shore a rite of passage.

This is a mindset the state is trying to discourage.

"You can enjoy the New Jersey shore which is a real Mecca for this area for families, for singles, for young people without the burden of becoming drunk," Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Jerry Fischer said.

To avoid the misconduct that comes from underage drinking, 28 towns along the coast will participate again this year in the Cops in Shops program where undercover police work behind the counter in places that sell and serve liquor.

Since 1996 over 8,000 underage drinkers, or adults buying for them, have been busted through this effort.

"When people see other young people in handcuffs outside your store it's kind of a deterrent," Spirits Unlimited manager Carroll Oakley said.

For those caught, they will pay the price: arrest, fines of at least $500, and the possible loss of your driver's license.

Authorities are also warning teens about the dangers if drinking and driving.

"You shouldn't be drinking, period. You shouldn't be drinking and driving because it's lethal. You can kill yourself, you can injure others," Director of Highway Traffic Safety Pam Fischer said.

Last year, a third of all the traffic deaths in New Jersey involved alcohol.