City cracks down on underage drinking


The Tallahassee Police Department is cracking down on underage drinking with the help of a partner grant.

A $7,380 grant from the Responsible Decision Making Coalition at a Sept. 19 city commission meeting will go toward enhancing underage drinking enforcement and fund overtime for Tallahassee law enforcement officials.

The Tallahassee Fire Department, Florida A&M University and Florida State University will join TPD in an effort to reduce the spread of underage drinking and inform individuals about the local and state beverage laws.

“Tallahassee Police Department isn’t only focusing on FSU, FAMU and TCC,” said TPD spokesman David Northway. “But also everyone who is under the age of 21 and holding a beverage in their hand.”

A 2010 national survey on drug use and health reported that 26 percent of youth aged 12 to 20 drink alcohol and 17 percent reported binge drinking.

“We are located in a college town where college students drink alcohol and have been drinking alcohol before attending college,” said Christopher Tavarez, a senior business administration student from Hollywood, Fla.

“It’s going to be challenge to stop underage drinking, but law enforcement can reduce it.”

First-time offenders can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor and put into a diversion program by a judge. Second offenses can bring a first-degree misdemeanor charge and jail time up to a year with fines up to $1,000.

Crime prevention officer at FSU’s police department Jeremy Izquierdo said his organization has worked to warn students of the dangers of underage drinking.

“We provide different educational speakers to speak to our students about underage drinking and driving under the influence,” he said.

Agency members will utilize several methods to achieve their mission, including inspections of licensed establishments. Vendors and will be held accountable if they serve drinks to those under 21.

“It’s for our community to bring a spotlight to underage drinking for this issue to change within our community,” Northway said.