Lapeer County billboards aimed at preventing underage drinking

June 3, 2010 5:19:57 PM PDT
(06/03/10) -- If you're driving around Lapeer County, you may see a billboard aimed at preventing underage drinking.The two men on the billboard are Lapeer County's Sheriff and Prosecutor. They're hoping to get the message out to parents and adults that providing alcohol to minors is a crime.

At least four of these billboards will be up in Lapeer County through September.

St. Clair Community Mental Health is paying for the advertising with grant money.

Lapeer County Sheriff Ron Kalanquin says they've had some terrible crashes in their community, like the one in Orgeon Township back in April of 2005. There were four victims, and their age's ranged from 14 to 23-years-old. Alcohol was believed to be a factor.

Lapeer County Prosecutor Byron Konschuh has had to deal with many of the issues surrounding the accidents. "The schools have called me and said we have issues."

So Lapeer County officials have taken an aggressive approach over the years. Konschuh says last fall and through the spring, he's talked at nearly every high school in the county and met with parents.

He even displays disturbing photos to show what alcohol can do. "A 15-year-old who has been abusing alcohol for some time has a lot less brain activity."

These billboards are going up just in time for graduation party season.

The billboards' message says to parents and adults, if one provides alcohol to a minor, their party will end.

Kalanquin hopes their efforts will generate change. "What we're trying to do is heighten awareness, especially at graduation time. There are criminal sanctions as well as civil penalties for providing alcohol to minors. It's a horrendous risk to take. Don't do it."

Sheriff Kalanquin also says if someone gets caught providing alcohol to a minor, they're looking at 30 to 60 days in jail, and maybe even up to a $1,000 in fines.

Similar billboards will be up in Sanilac and St. Clair Counties as well.

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