Even though Mississippi is experiencing some cold weather lately, warm weather will be here before you know it. Warmer weather will bring the chance for Mississippian’s to enjoy our state parks and recreational areas. While camping, boating, jet-skiing can be enjoyable activities if they are done safely, they can become extremely dangerous when you add alcohol into the mix.
The Bureau of Enforcement recently obtained a federal grant through the Mississippi Dept. of Public Safety to step up enforcement operations in the rural areas of the state. “Agents routinely enforce liquor laws in our college towns due to the concentration of young people in Oxford, Starkville and Hattiesburg” says Mark Hicks, Chief of Enforcement. “This will be a change in our enforcement strategy. Many of our rural law enforcement agencies don’t have the resources to detect violations in the counties and smaller towns. ABC Enforcement Agents will contact law enforcement officials in these areas to find out how we can assist them in deterring underage drinking.”
Young people will sometimes purchase alcohol in town and head to the country to avoid detection by law enforcement. ABC Enforcement receives several complaints a year about minors drinking at “pasture parties” on sandbars, and dead-end roads. Unfortunately, these rural areas become jump-off points for vehicle and boating accidents. “As blood alcohol content rises, the chance for vehicle and recreational accidents increases exponentially” says Hicks.
A recent nationwide survey suggests that 65% of our young people obtain alcohol from family and friends. Furnishing alcohol to minors is against the law. “Many people don’t understand that they could be setting the stage for disaster when they buy alcohol for children” says Hicks.