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Deputies check on liquor vendors in Orion, advise parents

October 31, 2012 - There have been increases in the use of synthetic marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs in Orion during 2012 but alcohol abuse is often forgotten.

The Oakland County Sheriff's Deputies in Orion have not forgotten, and October saw an increase in efforts to halt the use of alcohol by minors. This includes sting operations on local businesses with liquor licenses to determine if they are selling alcohol to minors - some of which are detailed on Page 12.

Despite the rise in efforts and results, Orion Township Substation Commander Dan Toth insisted there is not a "crackdown" in effect.

"This is not anything different that normal - these are ongoing efforts that we do month in and month out," he said. "These are in addition to our calls for service regarding house parties and underage drinkers. We check all businesses in Orion Township that have liquor licenses and we actually use underage decoys - students that are usually involved in the criminal justice classes from nearby colleges - with obvious underage ID's. We do this because much of the issues with abuse of alcohol is drinker accessibility."

Toth urged parents to keep an eye on their liquor and alcohol because most underage drinkers get their source from home. Teens often acknowledge they get their alcohol from garages, pantries and liquor cabinets that are not monitored by the parents. Toth asked parents keep the alcohol in a hard to access location.

In the month of October, deputies did liquor compliance checks on 24 different establishments and found three businesses that violated regulations and sold alcohol to at least one minor - two located on Lapeer Road and one on Interpark Drive.

"In all three instances a business agent for the establishment either did not ask for ID or did not look at the ID," said Toth. "They are charged criminally and that report is sent to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC)."

In addition to a misdemeanor crime, other sanctions are brought against a business found to be breaking alcohol laws. The first offense is met with a suspension of their liquor license for between one and 30 days, the second is one to three months and the final is a revocation of their liquor license. Each violation also brings with it a $1,000 fine and review from the MLCC.

Toth noted that minor in possession cases go up when school is back in session, likely thanks to kids gathering in sporting events and graduation parties. The frequent breaks near the end of the year also see minors in possession rates rise.

Sometimes, well intentioned parties can become alcohol infused without the host's knowledge.

"We are finding that with the increase use of Facebook, Twitter and other social networking that teens having a party broadcast to hundreds of other teens," said Toth. "At times, teenagers and parents had never intended for the party to become as large as it does and we urge parents to talk about this with their kids. If they want to have a party, we urge them not to post about it on their social networking sites, or at least limit it on those sites. When we get called out to some of these parties the teens and parents are unsure of how to cope with the volume of people showing up."

Toth added one common problem with parents is the question of why some kids get citations and others do not. He explained the reason was largely age-based. A teen aged 17 and older is tried as an adult and not considered a minor whereas those younger than 17 are considered minors and will go through the probate court system with their parents. A 17-year-old will go to adult court.

Finally, deputies want to remind everyone that they are very accessible when it comes to alcohol abuse. Those witnessing abuse or minors in possession are urged to call the non-emergency line at 248-858-4950, the hotline at 1-800-222-TIPS or email them at Callers do not have to leave a name and are urged to call if there is an incident in progress.

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