Arrests for underage drinking on the rise

Sam Houston State University, along with the Huntsville Police and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, is enforcing a zero tolerance policy regarding underage drinking and DWIs (Driving While Intoxicated). The policy stipulates that underage students know the consequences they will face if they are caught with alcoholan automatic citation or jail time. According to statistics from the University Police Department, five underage students have received Driving Under the Influence citations so far this semester. For a first DUI offense, a person may receive a fine, a license suspension or restriction, drunk driving education classes and/or probation that could last up to three years. A short jail sentence may be required, especially if it a second offense.Eleven university students under 21 were cited for DWIs this semester, which requires a fine, license suspension and possible jail time of 24 hours to one year for first time offenders. Substance abuse education and/or treatment will also be required. Several Minor in Possession citations have also been given out to SHSU students this semester, most commonly in nightclubs.The Huntsville Police, the university, and TABC are campaigning to combat underage drinking in Huntsville. “We have a responsibility here in Huntsville to safeguard our people, both residents and college students,” said Ken Foulch, Huntsville police officer. “It’s an ongoing problem that we have to combat as a community.”Foulch said the majority of underage drinking occurrences the Huntsville Police have gotten involved with this semester has been college related. “But you have to assume that since we are a college town, there will be underage drinking,” Foulch said.Underage drinking is common among college students because they are away from home and alcohol is readily available, said Foulch. “We have people who are 18,19, and 20 years old who can get a hold of alcohol, and they binge drink,” Foulch said. “Then they get behind the wheel.”Lt. Mark Pemberton of the Huntsville Police said underage drinking is a continuing struggle with college students. “It pretty well happens all year round,” said Pemberton. “People go back to school, and they start going out more and socializing.”Pemberton said that the majority of underage alcohol related citations have been distributed in nightclubs. The Huntsville Police Department has made an effort to heighten public awareness about the dangers of drunk driving, especially when students return at the beginning of the semester. Several reminders not to drink and drive were placed on the marquees in the front of various Huntsville businesses at the start of the semester to help combat the problem. “This is not just from a law enforcement perspective. This is a community perspective,” said Foulch. “It affects everyone. We are trying to prevent deaths and injuries. We are trying to talk with the bars and stores that sell liquor to minors, too.”Huntsville recently acquired a chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving to help educate people about the risks of drunk driving. HPD hopes a student chapter of MADD will eventually be created at SHSU and sponsored by the local chapter. College MADD chapters participate in activities such as distributing information about high-risk drinking, holding public awareness events to curb underage drinking and volunteering with their local MADD chapters.”We are planning to take a strong stand to enforce the laws regarding underage drinking,” said Pemberton. Alcohol is currently America’s number one drug problem among college students, and for the past three years, more alcohol-related deaths have occurred in Texas than in any other state.

Leave a Reply