Tourism is an essential part of our area economy, and the spring break crowds can mean profits for area hotels, restaurants, and other local businesses. While many young people are happy to enjoy the warm climate and gorgeous beaches in our community, others see spring break as an opportunity to overindulge in alcohol. This includes many underage drinkers. Our Panama City accident law firm applauds efforts by area police to enforce the law, in part because underage drinking creates an increased risk of Panama City car accidents, often resulting in harm to the spring breakers and area residents.
WJHG reports that state alcohol and tobacco agents are working hard to crack down on underage drinking. Many of the young people who flock to our region for a spring getaway are under the age of 21, and therefore below drinking age. An agent with the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco reports that they have already made over 1,300 alcohol-related arrests this season. Although the agency has collected a box full of fake IDs, this represents only a portion of those involved in underage drinking. Police are working hard to make sure the young people obey the law to maintain a safe community for both visitors and residents. Local authorities are aided by support from across the state during March and April when the spring break crowds descend on the area beaches. Efforts include the use of undercover agents and other creative policing methods.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers underage drinking a major public health issue. One CDC study reported that people between the ages of 12 and 20 consume 11% of all alcoholic beverages nationwide. Particularly concerning is the fact that over 90% of this consumption comes in the form of binge drinking. Younger drinkers tend to consume more alcohol in a single occasion than legal drinkers. Other studies have found that an average of approximately 5,000 young people under age 21 die each year from incidents related to underage alcohol use.
Successfully reducing underage drinking requires a multi-pronged approach. Educating young people about the dangers of misusing alcohol is an important part of these efforts. Studies also suggest that media exposure to alcohol use influences behavior, so reducing the culture that glorifies alcohol use is important. Likewise, coordinated efforts between police and the business community are crucial to tackling the underage drinking epidemic.
Spring beach trips should be an opportunity for young people to take a break from the pressures of school and enjoy good weather and good company. However, too often spring break is seen as synonymous with alcohol-fueled partying. This is both illegal and dangerous. We applaud efforts to enforce the law, endeavors that make spring break safe for both visitors and residents.
As always, if you are the victim of a car accident in Northern Florida or suffer any type of preventable harm, our Panama City personal injury attorney is here to help. We offer a free consultation to all potential clients and our staff is available 24/7 to take your call.