East Texas law enforcement officers get tips on breaking up pasture parties

East Texas law enforcement officers get tips on breaking up pasture parties
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

There's a serious problem of underage drinking in East Texas. Law enforcement and alcohol abuse educators have known about it a long time. Now they work together to raise community awareness.

Take a look at the findings.

A 2013 survey shows 58 percent of the state's secondary students reported alcohol use in their lifetime. Twenty-five percent reported they consumed it in the last 30 days.

In Nacogdoches, almost half of Nacogdoches secondary students drink booze, with over 33 percent drinking within the last month.

Stephen F. Austin State University criminal justice students simulated an underage drinking party Thursday. Law enforcement officers showed students the proper way to handle the situation.

The emphasis isn't always to go after the drunk minor. Instead, it's going after the adult provider of the alcohol.

"You have your id ma'am?" an officer asked during the simulation.

"No not with me," the actor said. "I have some in the house."

"You can serve alcohol to your daughter and son, but not to your neighbors," said Joel Moreno, a retired chief of enforcement for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and an instructor said.

The law is pretty straight forward, yet alcohol safety educators say few adults know the consequences for breaking it.

"They can lose different licenses that they have," said Peggy Muckleroy, the program coalition coordinator for the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas. "Even if they're a licensed plumber, they can lose that license."

The statewide coalition, Texans Standing Tall, put on the party dispersal classes. Telling officers how to do their job isn't the goal.

"The idea is to safely and securely break up underage drinking parties while holding those who supply the alcohol responsible," said Steve Ross, the communications coordinator for Texans Standing Tall.

Law enforcement can't disagree with that.

"The training is always good. Laws change," said Sgt. Dan Taravella with the Nacogdoches Police Department. "Trends change. The things we see out there on the street change."

Officers are seeing parties move from pastures to inside homes.

"This is a private party. This is private property," said one of the actors in the simulation. "You don't have an invitation."

Adults should know that moving their kid's party indoors provides no protection from the law.

Last year, there were more than 5600 Texas youth age 15 to 20 arrested for drunk driving.

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