Alliance should help curb teen drinking
The city Liquor Commission and Honolulu police have agreed to share information about reports of underage drinking.
AFTER operating in isolation from other law enforcement agencies for decades, the city Liquor Commission at last has joined hands with the Honolulu Police Department to fight underage drinking
. An agreement to share information between the agencies is a significant step in responding to reports of violations and discouraging illegal sales to minors.
Citing the regaining of public confidence as a prime goal soon after his appointment as the commission's administrator two months ago, Dewey H. Kim Jr. said it will share information about violations received on its 24-hour hot line -- 523-4194 -- with police. Reports of ongoing violations, such as underage drinking parties, should be directed to the 911 police emergency line.
Although declining in use by teens, alcohol remains the illicit substance of choice among high school students in Hawaii and the nation. A state Department of Health survey in 2003 found that more than one-seventh of eighth-graders, a third of 10th-graders and more than half of the seniors had been drunk at least once.
Aggressive enforcement of the law is needed to curb drinking by people under 21. A measure awaiting Governor Lingle's signature will require judges to suspend driver's licenses of those convicted of illegal possession of alcohol. Those who are too young to have a license would face postponement of eligibility for at least 180 days or until reaching age 17.
The consequences are significant for adults who allow drinking by underage party guests at their homes, facing criminal misdemeanor charges. If a youngster causes a traffic accident after leaving the party, the hosts become liable for damages.
The commission cited more than 200 businesses last year for selling alcohol to underage drinkers. Bars and restaurants risk facing a $2,000 fine or losing their licenses for such offenses.
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