NYC Underage Drinking Cases Up, Enforcement Down


At a time when New York state's booze patrol has downsized to its lowest level in 15 years, city hospitals have seen an alarming jump in emergency room cases stemming from underage drinking, reports the New York Daily News. The number of bombed teens in ERs has nearly doubled as the State Liquor Authority's depleted staff has scaled back its routine enforcement to focus on bars and businesses with the worst records for alcohol infractions.

“The SLA says that they have zero tolerance when it comes to selling liquor to minors. I'd like them to put their money where their mouths are,” said City Councilman James Vacca. He said the agency's skeletal staff depends on tips from the New York Police Department to root out establishments serving alcohol to minors or violating other rules of their liquor license. “If it wasn't for the NYPD, there'd be an explosion of illegal sales,” said Vacca. “The NYPD is picking up the slack for the SLA.” Binge drinking by teens has become such a crisis that the city Health Department launched a $200,000 ad campaign in 2011 warning of the perils of alcohol abuse.

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