PROVO, Utah – The Utah County Sheriff's Office uses stickers to warn those over the age of 21 that buying alcohol for a minor reserves you a seat in the back of a cop car.
The Sheriff's Office, in collaboration with Parents Empowered, is launching a new sticker campaign to remind adults of the consequences they could face for providing alcohol to a minor.
Senior prom, graduating high school and turning 18.
“Those particular times in a child’s life are times we typically think of them advancing into adulthood,” said Utah County Commissioner Nathan Ivie.
Occasions which oftentimes coincide with alcohol.
“They feel like adults, but in certain circumstances they’re not really classified as adults,” said Lieutenant Yvette Rice with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
But according to UCSO, drinking alcohol, is not their choice.
“It’s not really their choice, because legally they can’t make that choice; they’re not of age,” said Lt. Rice.
Since the year 2010, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office has issued 1,404 citations to underage drinkers for illegal possession or illegal consumption of alcohol, 122 citations for physical arrests to adults who provided alcohol to minors, and 59 underage DUIs.
“In eight years, that may not sound like a lot for some of these statistics, but even one citation or one arrest for one of those violations, is not acceptable as far as we’re concerned,” Lt. Rice said.
On a national level— Utah’s trouble with teen drinking is minimal. Of course, that doesn’t mean there’s not a problem.
“We do have a problem here in Utah and that is our kids have a much higher tendency to binge drink,” said commissioner Ivie. “We can’t think all’s well in Utah and we’re great and safe because we have lower alcohol consumption among our teenagers, those kids who are drinking are drinking way too frequently and drinking way too much,” added Ivie.
Leading teens to more reckless behavior and poor choices.
“One of the greatest tools that we have against underage drinking in Utah is our parents, unfortunately in many cases it is our parents that empower their kids to drink,” Ivie said.
“[Parents] think, ‘if I give kids alcohol at home, then I can control it, I can monitor it,’” Ivie added.
Now police are using a sticker to make sure everyone knows: teens who drink aren’t the only ones facing trouble.
The stickers are shaped like a shield and read, “Seat reserved for adults who give alcohol to minors." They will be placed in the rear passenger window of Utah County Sheriff’s Office patrol cars.
“They could find themselves in jail, they could find a hefty fine, and it is a criminal violation that will stay on their record,” said Lt. Rice, warning of the repercussions adults who purchase alcohol for minors could face.
Officers can’t prevent all underage drinking, but they say it all starts with parents.
“The power of parents is amazing," Ivie said. "If parents will take the time to talk to their kids… their kids will respond and listen."
“Get in their business, know what activities they’re involved with, know who they’re hanging out with, and make sure they understand what the real consequences of consuming alcohol could be,” Lt. Rice said.
”The greatest asset we have as a community are the children, they are our future… and if we don’t have the discussion, than the exploratory minds of teenagers go out and explore and they make poor decisions,” Ivie said.
So when it comes to those special moments like prom and graduation, they become nights teens remember: not nights they want to forget.
According to Lt. Rice, a great way to start the conversation is to use the real events that are happening in the community that you see on any given day on the local news.