Residents take a look at underage drinking

More than 100 people came out in a snowstorm Tuesday to learn about the problem of underage drinking and the impact it has on the community.

The Partnership of Community Resources along with the Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Prevention of Underage Drinking sponsored "Underage Drinking - What's the Big Deal?" at the Carson Valley United Methodist Church.

Sheriff Ron Pierini said underage drinking is a town hall issue that needs to be addressed.

"We want to make sure to get information out to the community," Pierini said. "Every day in America three teenagers die from drinking and driving and six die from alcohol-related causes. In our area, 300 are cited yearly for drinking which includes 150 juveniles."

Laws like the social host liability ordinance are proposed to make parents and landowners responsible for what goes on in their houses.

Pierini said the law would allow deputies to cite people at party houses. They could be billed by the sheriff's office and fire department when they have to come out to break up parties.

"Parents have to be responsible when they host parties at their homes," Pierini said. "I think this will work if we start charging them financially and civilly.

"Parents are the foundation. Officers and teachers aren't there all the time. You deal with them everyday. Send a positive message.

"We do what we can at the sheriff's office but you do your part too," he said.

Kris Freitas, counselor from Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School said children are drinking earlier and more violently.

"I want you to feel empowered as a parent and talk to your kids about drinking," Freitas said. "It affects their brains and livers more because they're growing."

Freitas suggested to parents to delay drinking and to set boundaries.

"Say 'no, it's not OK to drink,'" she said. "Our society has a casual attitude about alcohol. It kills more than any other drug and we still don't call it a drug."

Chief Deputy Juvenile Probation Officer Vicky Sauer-Lamb said the consequences suffered when drunk drivers get caught by law enforcement range from fines, driver's license suspensions and revocations to probation and incarceration.

"Parents should make consequences when kids get drunk," Sauer-Lamb said. "Ground them, take away their driving privileges."

Sauer-Lamb said that parents are financially responsible for their children and for making sure they don't drink alcohol.

"Make contact with your kids," she said. "Get face to face with them when they come home. You can smell alcohol on them if they've been drinking."

She said not to put them to bed drunk but to get medical treatment.

Sauer-Lamb suggested that parents talk with their children about alcohol and to participate in family activities like walks, picnics and movie night with popcorn.

Freitas said that addiction is a family disease.

"If your mom or dad have a problem, you have a greater chance of having a problem yourself," she said.

Freitas runs the youth organization Alateen, a youth organization to help those affected by someone else's drinking.

"Parents don't want to address their problem with their kids," she said. "In Alateen, we learn we didn't cause it, but learn how to cope."

Freitas said the best way to cope is to "recognize it's a problem."

To get more information about underage drinking, contact the Partnership of Community Resources at or at 782-8611.


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