According to research produced by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) in 2011, 71.4% of Oklahoma students in grades 9-12 stated they had consumed at least one alcoholic beverage during their life. An astonishing 19.4% said they had their first drink of alcohol (besides just a few sips) before 13! The same study estimated 151,000 underage individuals in Oklahoma drink each year. This research shows that despite law enforcement and local community efforts, today’s youth are still gaining access to alcohol.
Oklahoma County law enforcement officials and prevention specialist are teaming up with local community volunteers to combat this alcohol access problem by performing alcohol compliance checks. Underage volunteers, prevention specialists, and local police visit grocery stores, convenient stores, liquor stores, and the various eating establishments that sell alcohol in an attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages. Establishments that follow the law and “card check” our undercover patrons receive praise from the team of compliance enforcers. For the establishments that do not follow the law and sell alcohol to our underage patrons are quickly educated on the consequences of selling to minors, some may even receive a hefty fine for their actions. Over the past 6 months (September 2013-March 2014), 119 alcohol-selling establishments in Oklahoma County were visited by our prevention teams. Out of 119 places visited, 21 stores sold alcohol to underage customers. This unlawful access to alcohol is unacceptable and is costly to the state of Oklahoma. According to the PIRE report, underage drinking cost Oklahoma citizens over $800 million in 2010. Eagle Ridge Institute would like to encourage everyone in the local communities to help fight this dilemma. If you know of a local retailer selling alcohol to underage customers, please contact your local law enforcement or contact a prevention specialist at Eagle Ridge Institute at (405) 840-1359. Help us help you create a safe and positive environment in our communities.