EPPD warns parents, grads about underage drinking

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Det. Mike Baranyay: Adults will be prosecuted for providing alcohol to minors

Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 6:30pm

It is graduation season once again and many proud parents of high school seniors are planning parties to celebrate their accomplishments.

El Paso Police Spokesperson Detective Mike Baranyay said they expect an increase in calls about loud parties and underage drinking.

"It's warmer, people are out of school, whether it's high school students or college students for that matter, alcohol is more likely to be consumed," he said.

However, Baranyay said police have a warning if there will be alcohol and minors at those parties. Officers will be out making sure people who are under 21 are not drinking alcohol at those parties.

Baranyay said officers will also cite adults if they provide alcohol to minors.

"We are able to locate and identify the person who supplied that alcohol and we do prosecute them. It's a class A misdemeanor, you can go to jail for up to a year and face a $4,000 fine," said Baranyay.

Officers will also be looking for drunk drivers leaving graduation parties.

"A 21-year-old has a .08 limit. If they exceed that, they're a drunk driver. Anybody under the age of 21, it's any detectable amount and they're facing an alcohol related driving charge," he said.

Dora Basurto with the Rio Grande Safe Communities Coalition said drunk driving should not be the only concern when it comes to underage drinking.

"There's a risk of sexual assault, violent crimes, teen pregnancy and other problems," she said.

The organization launched a campaign with billboards and public service announcements targeted at prevention.

"Don't provide, don't excuse and don't ignore. Report underage drinking," said Basurto.

Businesses caught selling alcohol to minors can lose their license to sell alcohol, and the employee who actually sells alcohol to a minor could face charges.

For more information about alcohol related support services offered by the Rio Grande Safe Communities Coalition, call 915-775-2555.

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