'Operation Safe Prom' focuses on underage drinking - KUSI News - San Diego, CA

'Operation Safe Prom' focuses on underage drinking

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Local police forces gearing up to prevent underage drinking and driving during prom season Local police forces gearing up to prevent underage drinking and driving during prom season

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — 'Operation Safe Prom' is a county countywide effort to prevent alcohol-related deaths and injuries, as well as underage drinking.

Operations will include: DUI checkpoints, roving DUI patrols, and stepped-up enforcement of social host laws throughout San Diego County. All 18 cities and the unincorporated areas of the county have passed ordinances making it illegal to host underage drinking parties. 

During prom and graduation season, local communities typically experience an increase in drunk driving incidents and collisions involving young, impaired drivers. Local hospitals also typically notice a spike in emergency room discharges for underage alcohol abuse during this time of year.

The goal of Operation Safe Prom is to prevent alcohol-related problems through high visibility enforcement efforts and to inform residents that police are planning to aggressively enforce social host laws that prohibit anyone — adults or minors — from hosting underage drinking parties.

Since 2002, local law enforcement agencies have issued nearly 500 misdemeanor social host citations. Violators face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, plus additional costs related to law enforcement response. 

Neighbors are not afraid to report underage drinking parties. The Center for Community Research examined 92 social host citations written by the Sheriff's department between 2011 and 2013. Researchers found that more than 90 percent of those citations involved a disturbance call with residents impacted by noise, minors vomiting outside homes, fights, sexual assaults, and even gunfire.

Half the time, deputies found guests severely intoxicated, unable to care for themselves, or requiring medical aid or transport due to injury, assault, or alcohol poisoning. 

Numerous studies indicate underage drinking is a serious public health issue in San Diego County. Nearly two-thirds of 11th graders say it's "fairly easy" or "very easy" to obtain alcohol, according to the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS). 

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