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Police: Keep grad parties alcohol-free

Sandusky Register Staff • Jun 2, 2010 at 11:01 AM

Early last Sunday morning a noise complaint drew several Huron police officers to a home in the 300 block of Wheeler Drive.

The officers believed they saw underage people drinking alcohol both inside and outside the house, Huron police Chief John Majoy said.

Upon entering with a search warrant, police charged five adults and two juveniles with underage drinking, Majoy said.

The son of the property owners, Maxwell Jenkins, also was charged with seven counts of furnishing alcohol to underage people and related offenses.

'Tis the season for graduations and increased tourism -- a time when underage drinking is more prevalent, Erie County Sheriff's Capt. Paul Sigsworth said.

As new graduates celebrate their freedom and parties abound, police warn adults against providing alcohol to help kick off the festivities.

Some people cite the desire to provide a "safe place" for underage drinking, Sigsworth said. That, he said, is a misguided intention.

The fact is, even if car keys are confiscated, drinking still presents the risks of alcohol poisoning, sexual assault and fights.

When asked how adults and teenagers should approach graduation season, Majoy repeated the words: "Be smart."

"If you put a keg of beer out there and a bunch of cups, what do you think is going to happen?" he asked. "Is there really a burning need to have alcohol at the party?

"All too often, we read in the paper of some sort of tragedy where there's an alcohol-related injury, accident or death, and it's not worth it."

The crime

A person can be charged with furnishing alcohol to underage persons if police can prove they knowingly allowed underage consumption on his or her property.

Though adults may furnish alcohol to their own underage children, it is illegal for them to furnish it to other children even if the parents or guardians of those children allow it.

Charges of underage drinking and furnishing alcohol to underage people carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Furnishing alcohol to underage people can also result in civil action.

Advice for parents

As prom and graduation season begins, law enforcement officials recommend parents:

* Teach children the dangers of drinking. Someone could drink and drive, and fights and sexual assaults could occur.

* Check in on their children and keep in contact with them via cell phone, if possible.

* Ask other parents whether they will allow children to drink on their property.

* Keep graduation parties alcohol-free.

(Sources: Huron Police Chief John Majoy, Norwalk Police Capt. Mike Conney and Erie County Sheriff's Capt. Paul Sigsworth)

Did you know?

A person younger than 21 may legally consume alcohol when:

* A parent or guardian physically gives it to him or her and is present with the child.

* A spouse of legal age furnishes it to his or her spouse.

* Alcohol is consumed for religious purposes.

(Source: Huron Police Chief John Majoy)

Underage alcohol charges in Huron, by year

Number of people charged with furnishing alcohol to underage persons

2004 -- 8

2005 -- 3

2006 -- 6

2007 -- 8

2008 -- 13

Number of people charged with underage consumption

2004 -- 39

2005 -- 42

2006 -- 49

2007 -- 60

2008 -- 61

(Source: Huron Police Chief John Majoy)

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