State funds local initiative to deter underage drinking

By Joe Bennett

August 28, 2012 Updated Aug 29, 2012 at 9:08 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Local police are working with Bradley University to crack down on underage drinking through a $9,000 state grant.

Area college students, however, tell us the effort is admirable, but the execution is misplaced.

It's designed as a comprehensive approach to keep underage drinkers from consuming.

"There's education, there's outreach to the community and there's this enforcement piece," according to Bradley University's Assistant Director of Alcohol Education and Wellness Lyndsey Hawkins. "So, really, we're trying to do everything that we can responsibly to combat this issue."

City, county and Bradley police will collaborate to check ID's at bars and liquor stores during the eight-month grant period.

The maximum penalty for a fake ID is three years in prison, but authorities say that's rarely the case.

Underage drinkers would most likely face an education program over jail time.

However, Bradley students we spoke with say police are looking in the wrong place.

"To prevent and educate people to not drink underage, that's not going to stop the problem. It's merely going to get them out of the bars," said Bradley senior Jamie Hammond.

Another senior, Jimmy McMullen, said, "the people that want to get alcohol from someone else are going to do that."

Molly Hughes owns the Fieldhouse Bar and Grill right across from Bradley.

She says underage drinkers rarely try to get in her establishment.

"It's a little more common that they will buy alcohol or get some of their older friends to buy them alcohol."

What underage drinkers may be too young to realize is the program is part of a more involved initiative to keep young people from going out to drink before getting behind the wheel of a car.

"Hopefully as an underage enforcement grant we can try to prevent that abuse from happening at a younger age," Hawkins added, "So by the time they are legal they know how to responsibly consume."

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