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Zero tolerance for underage drinking in North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety Alcohol Law Enforcement has a zero tolerance policy on underage drinking. Most people know that it is illegal for a minor to possess or consume any alcohol, and underage drinkers in North Carolina face a fine of over $200 if they are caught.

But there are additional juvenile crimes associated with underage drinking that can have particularity serious consequences, including using a borrowed, fake or altered identification to procure alcohol, or driving while under the influence of alcohol. Minors may also lose their driving privileges and face an arrest record that could affect their schooling or jobs. Although these charges should all be considered serious, they may be addressed in a way that will not ruin someone's life.

Agents of the North Carolina public safety organization are out on the streets, in liquor stores and in bars every single night, monitoring for alcohol violations. Local law enforcement and residents work in cooperation with those agents who team up for undercover operations at least a few times a month.

On a recent night, agents pulled over a young man driving a vehicle erratically, after the agents observed young people exchanging money at a local establishment. The teens in the car were drinking. Although they may have only had blood-alcohol levels of .02, they received citations for underage consumption. The driver of the vehicle was 21 years old, so he received a citation for aiding and abetting an underage person to procure alcohol.

The fact that law enforcement and safety advocates will go to extreme lengths illustrate how seriously they take juvenile crimes. With undercover agents, sting operations and increased patrols, kids often get caught by an officer they never saw coming.

Source: WBTV, "Undercover operation targets alcohol violations in Union County," Coleen Harry, Sept. 28, 2012

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