URI-Narragansett Coalition studying ways to fight underage drinking

By Son Hoang

Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2005

04/20/05 - The University of Rhode Island-Narragansett Coalition's Common Ground subcommittee has created seven programs to decrease underage drinking in the community and discussed the most popular ones at last night's meeting.

The subcommittee focuses on addressing "the environmental factors involved with college student underage drinking in Narragansett," and "to implement plans to promote prioritized environmental prevention strategies," according to its Web site.

Citing the April 7 underage drinking sting by the Narragansett Police Department, which resulted in the arrests of 24 current and former URI students, members of Common Ground discussed initiatives to curb underage drinking.

"When [the police] go and arrest 24 people, the police department begins to file complaints and do things through the legal system," Common Ground member Joe Meister said. "The police just can't go and close a place down and take your liquor license away."

The subcommittee assigned members to study its Responsible Beverage Service, Driving Under the Influence Enforcement and ID Checking programs to determine which would be the most effective at curbing underage drinking in Narragansett.

RBS involves working with the town hall to create and strengthen local alcohol regulations and to train alcohol servers.

"Work in RBS might also involve forming partnerships with the tavern owner and police partnership group," according to the initiative.

Common Ground members Carol Stuart, Nancy Devaney and John Stevenson will work on the RBS program to see how well it would work if initiated.

The DUI Enforcement program would work with local police to increase

enforcement. It would also work with the media to inform residents and students of the increased enforcement.

"Right now the Narragansett police do a lot that we're probably not even aware of. We could develop a local media campaign that wouldn't cost us anything and talk a little bit more about [DUI enforcement]," Devaney said. "We could generate stories like the 24 arrests."

Devaney suggested talking to The Good Five Cent Cigar, The Narragansett Times and The South County Independent to get the message out about DUI Enforcement.

Committee members Anthony Pelopida and Alex Brincko will also study the DUI Enforcement program.

Pelopida will also work with Joe Meister and George Tracy to look into the ID Checking initiative, which would help taverns obtain and use state-of-the-art equipment for checking IDs.

"I will put my name in there to support [the initiative], but I want someone in authority to be there," Meister said. "I'll do whatever I can to get information about this and report it back here."

Meister said, "This isn't going to be strictly student's ID checking. We're not going to single out URI students."

Devaney suggested checking the IDs of anyone who looked under 29 years old.

Brincko asked how successful local bars currently are at catching and confiscating fake IDs.

"It would be useful if [local bars] have a reporting system that says, 'We've been good guys. We actually turned away 15 people this week,'" Brincko said.

Devaney said she knew of a bar owner that gives cash incentives to his doormen for every fake ID they collect.

"I think that there are a couple local of bars that do offer cash incentives... so there are a lot of things happening around us," Devaney said.