will receive $5,000 as one of 17 grants to local police departments from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) to combat underage drinking.
A total of $114,000 in grants, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, were awarded on a competitive basis. These awards varied between $5,000 and $15,000 based on the size of the community. This is the second round of grants culled from federal funds.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 33 percent of 15 to 20 year-olds who were killed in crashes nationwide in 2009 had a blood alcohol content of .01 or higher. According to , young drivers tend to engage in other risky driving behaviors while drinking, such as speeding, distracted driving, running red lights, making illegal turns, and not wearing seat belts.
In 2009, 70 percent of the young drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes who had been drinking, also weren't weating seatbelts, said Sheehan.
Sheehan said there are many tested strategies available to combat underage drinking, and this grant provides much needed funds to target the problem. The grants will fund a variety of initiatives including compliance checks, reverse stings, retail surveillance patrols, and party patrols.
Through a combination of these initiatives, said Sheehan, the Tewksbury Police Department will enforce a zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking and businesses that sell to minors.
"Whether you are under age, plan to sell to a minor, or buy alcohol for a minor, we will be on the look out," said Sheehan. "Offenders will be criminally prosecuted and businesses will be referred to the licensing authority for administrative action."
Sheehan said that teens and parents need to be reminded that underage drinking is deadly serious. Parents need to know that hosting a party where alcohol is being served to minors is not only illegal, but is extremely dangerous for their teens, for others in the community, and for the parents themselves, given the legal liabilities they face.
"Any loss or injury on our roadways is one too many," said Sheehan. "The Tewksbury Police Department, in partnership with EOPSS, recognizes that traffic crashes are preventable, and is committed to using this grant to reduce the number of motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries in the Town of Tewksbury."