Underage drinking taking a toll on state.

Underage drinking cost the state of Oklahoma $831 million in 2010.

Health, social and economic problems result from the use of alcohol by youth and underage drinking is a causal factor in a host of serious problems, including homicide, suicide, traumatic injury, drowning, burns, violent and property crime, high risk sex, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisoning, and need for treatment for alcohol abuse and dependence.

In 2009, underage customers consumed 20.4 percent of all alcohol sold in Oklahoma, totaling $250 million in sales (in 2010 dollars). Pottawatomie County youth report the main place that they get alcohol is from home or a friend’s home.

Based on this information, the Oklahoma ABLE (Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement) Commission will go beyond licensed establishments to ensure it is doing its part to reduce underage drinking. These enforcement efforts will include fake ID enforcement, party patrols, enforcing social host laws and training more police officers on how to conduct these types of investigations.

ABLE will also be assisting Gateway to Prevention and Recovery’s prevention specialists with a special training on March 27 for all retail alcohol sellers and servers in Pottawatomie County. This training will help anyone who handles alcohol in convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurants or bars to know how to check ID’s and what their legal responsibilities are when it comes to serving alcohol or selling alcohol for off-site consumption.

The Responsible Beverage Servers and Sellers (RBSS) Training will be held at the Shawnee Public Library on Wednesday, March 27, from 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The training session is free and all sellers and servers are welcome. Enrollment in the course can be completed by calling Jan at 405-613-9925.

ABLE Agents also follow up on fatal incidents that involve youth and alcohol to determine if crimes were committed regarding youth access to alcohol or social host violations. In the State of Oklahoma, if a social host case results in severe bodily injury or death, it is a felony and any time alcohol is furnished to a minor, it is a felony.