Everyone knows that the underage drinking laws exist, but were you aware that 15% of Delaware County youth still report purchasing their alcohol at stores, gas stations, bars, and restaurants?

Not only is underage alcohol consumption illegal, but it has an overwhelming effect on our families and our communities. Alcohol use by teens is related to many traffic crashes, crime, teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, suicides, drowning, and poor performance in school.

Underage drinking also has a direct economic effect on our communities.  It is less expensive and easier to prevent underage drinking than pay to investigate motor vehicle crashes, fights, and other crime that underage drinking promotes.

In the effort to reduce the availability of alcohol to youth and improve the quality of life in our communities, we will be partnering with the Delaware County Drug Abuse Coalition and Delaware County Sheriff’s Office to conduct compliance checks of alcohol retailers. We would like to notify the public of these upcoming checks that will be happening throughout Delaware County at the beginning of this year.

These checks will be funded by the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF SIG), which is provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The goal of a compliance check program is to identify alcohol establishments that sell alcohol to underage youth.  Compliance checks, in addition to programs like Responsible Beverage Service Training, are used to educate retailers and the public about liquor laws and help to keep alcohol out of the hands of our youth. Letters were sent to all retailers in the county with information on how to refuse alcohol sales to underage buyers and protect their business.

Selling alcohol is a privilege that has very specific responsibilities attached to it and many Delaware County retailers take this responsibility seriously. It is our goal as well as law enforcement’s to have compliance among all Delaware County liquor license holders.

We encourage responsible business people and liquor license holders, to take advantage of training opportunities such as Responsible Beverage Service Training and discuss underage laws with their staff. We also encourage community members to let local retailers know that their efforts to reduce underage access are supported and encouraged.

To learn more about underage drinking and the current efforts to reduce it, check out our website at www.helpingservices.org/getinvolved.

If you have any questions regarding the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG), the strategies being implemented in Delaware County or would like to serve on a subcommittee that focuses on the strategies, please feel free to contact Jen Stolka at  jstolka@helpingservices.org  or (563)379-0531.

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