February fatality prompts status on underage drinking

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by Derek Smith

 Anchorage, AK--  It's an epidemic in the state of Alaska. And it comes with dire consequences. 

Some believe underage drinking has become more accepted. According to officials, sixty percent of high schoolers reported drinking on a regular basis over the last month. 

"When you translate that into numbers, that's thousand of highschoolers using alcohol," Marny Rivera, UAA associate professor of the Justice Center says. 

But how these minors are receiving these booze might be troubling. 

"When we talk to these young people about where they get their sources for alcohol, some of their top sources are their family," Rivera says. 

While some family members turn the blind eye, the Alcohol Beverage Control Board is currently modifying statutes to reduce the ongoing concern.

"There are consequences for youth who drink, but there are consequences for adults who furnish that alcohol to young people," Rivera says. 

"This is a problem that can be prevented if only adults would stop providing alcohol."

Unfortunately, officials say it's accidents like February's traffic fatality that reminds them the dangers of underage drinking. The Anchorage Police Department says they are cracking down. 

 "We are serious in cases like this. By buying booze, you will be prosecuted," Steven Dunn, Traffic Fatality Invesigator of APD says. 

APD says Febuary's incident should serve as a cautionary tale for underage drinkers. 

"To convey first of all to public it's wrong to buy liquer underage, that you know you can suffer dire consequences in doing so," Dunn says. 

Until the issue is resolved, officials say tragedies will continue. 

"But they are 100 percent preventable, " Rivera says.