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Published January 19, 2010, 06:29 PM

Roseau County Cracks Down On Underage Drinking

An 85-percent increase in underage drinking in Roseau county may seem alarming. But law enforcement there says it actually means more kids are just being caught.

An 85-percent increase in underage drinking in Roseau county may seem alarming.

But law enforcement there says it actually means more kids are just being caught.

For 19-year-old Dave Muirhead of Roseau, fighting peer pressure to drink hasn't been easy.

David Muirhead/Teen: "Its a problem but there are far more teens that don't drink than do drink."

A recent report from the sheriff's department shows that underage drinking is up 85-percent in Roseau county. Last year 26 citations were given for underage drinking in the county compared to 14 in 2008.

David Muirhead/Teen: "There's always peer pressure there to drink."

Steve "The coalition says underage drinking is not necessarily up, just the enforcement of it is up. That means deputies are noticing it more, and thats bringing the numbers up."

Thanks to a partnership with the local Sheriff's department, the Roseau County Prevention Coalition has started the "Zap or Zero" policy. It takes a different approach to underage drinking.

Tammie Dobbler/Prevention Coordinator: "It's going after the person who's providing the alcohol, talking to the kids and tracking them down."

Steve: That's leading to more citations which is why the numbers are higher. But the coalition wants to get to the source of the problem.

Tammie Dobler/Prevention Coordinator: "Reducing access and availability, enforcing existing laws,and changing public attitudes and social norms, and we have been working with law enforcement."

Teens and parents say the program seems to be working.

David Muirhead/Teen: "Lots of my friends have jobs making minimum wage and they don't want to spend the money on a 180- dollar fine."

The coalition says it will take a few years to gauge the success of their effort but initial signs show teens are responding.

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