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Ohio prom season approaching: Enforcement campaign targets teens

Never heard of the Ohio Investigative Unit (OIU)? Chances are that most Ohioans haven't, although a number of state teens and other young people might be gaining some close-up familiarity with that body within the next couple months.

The OIU is a unit of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, tasked with enforcing local, state and federal law in areas with a strong focus on liquor and tobacco.

The unit is stepping front and center presently to publicize a new safety and enforcement campaign called "You Booze, You Lose." The initiative is aimed most centrally at underage drinkers, with one stated intent being to prevent car accidents and other dire outcomes related to drinking that commonly occur during the annual prom and high school graduation season.

"We don't want these memories to be tarnished by underage drinking," says OIU Agent-in-Charge Eric Wolf.

To thwart that activity, agents statewide want the public to know they will be increasing their undercover presence at liquor stores, checking on would-be underage buyers and any adult that aids and abets alcohol purchases for minors. Additionally, they will be conducting education sessions in Ohio schools and working with law enforcement agencies as officers look out for drunk driving activity.

Officials say that the campaign is not primarily punitive, but, rather, focused on safety and cultivating teens' awareness of the dangers of underage consumption. Those include a heightened car crash risk, juvenile crime and other matters.

The penalties associated with juvenile drinking and driving in Ohio can be severe. They include arrest, potential license suspension, various financial outlays and points added to a driving record.

Source: The Ledger Independent, "This prom season, don't booze and lose," Wendy Mitchell, April 8, 2013

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