JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow today announced the launch of Operation Teen Proof, a cooperative program designed to curtail underage drinking in Will County.
The announcement was made during a breakfast presentation attended by local police, fire officials, educators, liquor enforcement officials and business leaders from across Will County. Through Operation Teen Proof, the state’s attorney, along with Heineken USA and Joliet-based distributor Kozol Bros., Inc., will raise awareness about the dangers of underage drinking and take important steps to prevent underage people from purchasing alcoholic beverages.
“It is critical that we launch a public discussion about the hazards of underage drinking as young people are celebrating the end of the school year and high school seniors are poised to graduate and take their first taste of adult freedom,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “But they must know this freedom does not give them the right to drink alcohol. We must help them make the right decisions, and the beverage industry must reinforce our message.”
To enlist support in preventing minors from purchasing alcohol, the state’s attorney’s office, Heineken USA and Kozol Bros. will distribute more than 5,000 driver’s license verifiers (DLVs) to every liquor store, bar and restaurant throughout Will County.
The verifiers highlight the pearlescent print inscription, “A Safer State With Point .08,” that runs across the entire front of the Illinois driver’s license including the photograph. The verifiers greatly improve a proprietor’s ability to spot signs of tampering and enable him or her to make a more informed decision as to the true age of a prospective customer.
“Heineken USA is pleased to support State’s Attorney Glasgow’s proactive stand against underage drinking in Will County,” said Tamara Moore, senior director of corporate relations, Heineken USA. “Operation Teen Proof is a demonstration of one of the core corporate values at Heineken USA; that the company can help identify solutions to issues associated with alcohol consumption. This partnership allows us to help drive a positive impact in the communities where we both live and sell our product.”
In addition, Kozol Bros. will distribute fliers to licensees letting customers know their establishment follows the law by aggressively checking driver’s licenses and refusing to sell liquor to anyone who is underage.
“It is important that the beverage industry take the lead and assist law enforcement in its efforts to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors,” Glasgow said. “Operation Teen Proof stresses the importance of protecting our young people by complying with Illinois law.”
During the launch event, Glasgow also introduced Jim Rockwell, a man who at the age of 16 experienced the life-changing effects of drinking and driving. As a result of his crash, Rockwell suffered a coma and nearly died. Since then, he has spoken to hundreds of thousands of young people across the country about the dangers of drinking and driving, including a group of local students on Friday afternoon.
Rockwell’s cautionary message to young people seeks to counter troubling local statistics on underage alcohol consumption. According to a 2006 survey of Will County high school seniors conducted by the Illinois Youth Survey, students start to drink alcohol regularly at age 15. In addition, 66 percent of those surveyed stated they had consumed alcohol within the past month, yet only 54 percent reported they believed regular alcohol consumption to be harmful.
These statistics highlight the need for students to receive warnings about the dangers of underage drinking through local prevention programs. “I have always made crime prevention a priority, because every dollar we spend on prevention saves us $10 to $20 in remedial costs,” Glasgow said. “Just last week we sponsored the Road to Reality program at a local high school to show young people the cruel realities of drunken driving.”
The state’s attorney also expressed support for local liquor commissioners and police officials who train proprietors and regularly spot check businesses in their communities to ensure they follow the law. Their diligent enforcement efforts are helping to keep our young people safe.