May 17—COLUMBUS — Agents with the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU) and the Ohio Division of Liquor Control are reminding high school students not to use drugs or alcohol during graduation celebrations. Agents are also encouraging parents to refrain from furnishing alcohol or a place to consume alcohol.
"Hosting a graduation party with alcohol is not giving your children and their friends a safe place to gather," said Senior Enforcement Commander Erik Lockhart. "Adults who choose to host a party with drugs and alcohol are not only opening themselves up for jail time, fines, and civil suits; but could ultimately be responsible for the loss of life."
To help foster good choices, parents and teens need to understand Ohio's underage drinking laws.
* It is illegal to provide a place for your child and his/her friends to drink in a "safe" environment. In fact, parents may not provide alcohol to children who are under 21, who are not their own, even in their own home with the other parents' permission. Those convicted of providing alcohol to a person under 21 years of age face a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
* It is illegal to purchase alcohol for anyone under 21. Anyone who purchases, sells or gives alcoholic beverages to underage individuals faces a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail.
* If you are under 21 and are caught driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .02 percent or higher, a level that can be reached after just one or two drinks, you can be arrested. Punishment is suspension of your driver license for at least 90 days up to a maximum of two years, plus four points added to your driving record. Having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle is also illegal.
Carry-outs and drive-through establishments should be on alert for underage individuals attempting to purchase alcohol. The DOLC reminds permit holders and liquor agency stores of their responsibility to ensure they are not selling to or serving those under the age of 21.
"These celebrations can turn into tragedies when they're combined with alcoholic beverages and can result in lifelong effects on teens, their families, and their communities," said DOLC Superintendent Jim Canepa. "Taking steps to stop the sale of alcoholic beverages to underage consumers can help keep teens and communities safe, sound, and secure."
The best way to prevent underage sales is for liquor permit holders and agency stores and their staff to thoroughly check the identification of all young people attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages. Always ask for a photo ID and carefully compare it to the person seeking to make a purchase. If photo/ID can't be provided, or if it's not clear that the ID belongs to the person who presented it, it's critical to refuse the sale.
"Together, we must commit to making a safer Ohio, by stopping senseless tragedies associated with irresponsible and illegal underage alcohol consumption," Commander Lockhart said.
If you have information about a bar, store or carryout selling beer and/or liquor to persons under the age of 21, or you have information of an underage house party, please notify the Ohio Investigative Unit by calling the #677 on your cell phone and your complaint will be investigated.