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A call to cut funding to North Carolina's Alcohol Law Enforcement agency

The editorial board at the Daily Tar Heel makes its case for cutting funding to North Carolina's Alcohol Law Enforcement agency (referred to as ALE). ALE is the North Carolina agency tasked with enforcing the state's alcohol laws, and is notorious for the tactics it employs to arrest minors for underage drinking.

As advocated by the editorial board, ALE should be eliminated because its tactics include a reliance on "secrecy and coercion" to achieve its goals. For example, some of ALE's 112 agents have used their own children, or others' children, to see whether retailers are selling alcohol or cigarettes to underage people and not checking identification.

ALE also conducts covert operations, which the Daily Tar Heel acknowledges as perfectly legal, but such tactics come "at a cost of creating a culture of fear" among young people - this in a state with a large body of students, large schools like the University of North Carolina school system, and important collegiate sports programs - where underage drinking is probably the norm (like in many colleges and universities across the country) rather than the exception.

The Daily Tar Heel bases its case on the fact that in the majority of instances, underage drinking is a "victimless" crime, usually causing no harm to anyone else unless the minor is subsequently arrested for drunk driving and has put other motorists and passengers at risk (or has actually caused a serious car accident).

Source: The Daily Tar Heel, "End ALE this year: With the size of the deficit, the time is right to eliminate one of NC's despicable agencies," Editorial Board, April 18, 2011

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