The Tewksbury Police Department was recently awarded a $5,000 grant to combat underage drinking. The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Highway Safety Division (EOPSS/HSD) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is providing $490,960.53 in funding to 72 Massachusetts communities on a competitive basis with awards ranging from $2,000 to $15,000.
Whether you are underage, plan to sell to a minor, or buy alcohol for a minor, this funding promotes our effort to diligently enforce the laws against underage drinking. The grants will fund a variety of law enforcement initiatives including compliance checks, reverse stings, retail surveillance patrols, and party patrols. Through a combination of these initiatives, the Tewksbury Police Department will enforce a zero-tolerance policy on minors who seek to circumvent the law and those people and businesses that enable them. Over the past three years, activities under this grant have resulted in 917 youth citations and 377 arrests. Citations were also issued to 574 adults, and 249 adult arrests were made across the Commonwealth.
Although much progress has been made in the last two decades, alcohol-related crashes are all too common among young people. According to NHTSA, in 2013, 29% of young drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed in crashes had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .01 or higher. Of those young drivers who had tested positive for alcohol, 82% of them had BACs of .08 or higher. Compounding the problem, drivers are also less likely to use restraints when they have been drinking. NHTSA estimates that minimum drinking-age laws (21 years old) have saved 29,834 lives nationwide since 1975.
Teens and parents need to be reminded that underage drinking is not a game. It’s deadly serious. Parents need to know that hosting a party where alcohol is served to minors is illegal and extremely dangerous for young people and the entire community. Parents should also know they will face all legal liabilities.
Despite this hopeful trend, more work needs to be done to further reduce underage drinking and driving. The Tewksbury Police Department, in partnership with EOPSS/HSD and NHTSA, recognizes that traffic crashes are preventable and is committed to using this grant to reduce the number of motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries in Tewksbury because any loss of life or injury on our roadways is one too many.