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In-Depth: Lorain County issues warning about underage drinking season

In-Depth: Lorain Co. issues warning about the underage drinking season
Posted at 10:20 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 23:13:35-04

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio — The Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board of Lorain County is urging local parents to keep watch on their teens for underage alcohol consumption during this graduation and summer season.

Even though underage alcohol use among teens has steadily declined in the U.S. over the past decade, a 2020 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse indicated 20.5% of eighth graders and 40.7% of tenth graders are still drinking alcohol.

The MHARS Board of Lorain County also pointed to a 2018 Pride survey of more than 2,700 Lorain County students, grades six through 12, which indicated more than 55% of the students reported alcohol was "easy" or "fairly easy" to get.

Tonya Birney with MHARS Board of Lorain County Prevention Services said her agency worked with North Ridgeville Police in running alcohol sales compliance checks at 12 local businesses, with three businesses cited for selling alcohol to underage informants.

“Businesses, it's important that you’re actually checking to make sure that you’re not serving to underage youth," Birney said. “A lot of people don’t realize that addiction happens at adolescence, and we're trying to prevent youth using underage. We provide education to the servers as to how to check IDs, how to make sure they’re not selling to underage youths.”

Birney said it's crucial parents talk with their children and teens about the dangers of underage alcohol use.

“When you talk to individuals who are in recovery and you ask them when did you start to first pick up alcohol, nine times out of 10 they’re going to say it was in adolescence," Birney said. “Sit down and talk to your kids and ask those questions. We want to make sure that you have the relationship with your young people, where they feel comfortable talking about the things that are going on in their lives.”

On June 24, 2021, North Ridgeville police, in partnership with the MHARS Board of Lorain County and the Ohio Investigative Unit, conducted a detail targeting the sale of alcohol to underage persons.

Lt. Greg Petek said two eighteen year old male informants were utilized and made attempts to purchase alcohol at 12 locations.

Of the 12 businesses, alcohol was sold to the underage informants by three of them, including AMF North Ridgeville Lanes on Center Ridge Road, C. Mulligan’s Pub on Pitts Boulevard and the Chipotle on Lorain Road.

“If they are selling to underage persons they are going to get caught, and we’re looking for these types of violations," Petek said. “They also need to train their employees to lookout for underage persons that may be going in and try to purchase alcohol. We find a lot of times the employees basically aren’t trained or given the information.”

News 5 reached out to North Ridgeville Lanes and Chipotle Corporate Headquarters in Newport Beach California for a response to the citations issued to their clerks, we're still waiting for a response.

The owner of C. Mulligan's Pub quickly responded, and said the alcohol sale to the underage police informant was an isolated incident and that her business takes the checking of identifications very seriously.

Lt. Petek said the servers who were issued violations face up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine if convicted.

RELATED: 3 North Ridgeville establishments cited for underage sales of alcohol to minors