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Crackdown on Underage Drinking in Tuscaloosa

By Associated Press

Tuscaloosa, AL – The head of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board says a crackdown on underage drinking will continue in Tuscaloosa despite requests from City Hall to curb the arrests, including at the Strip near the University of Alabama campus.

City officials said the jailings on misdemeanor charges create bad publicity and have a short-term, negative affect on businesses.

City Attorney Bob Ennis said the board had agreed to relax its arrest policy and issue citations to minors found with alcohol, rather than arrest them. But, he said a subsequent lawsuit filed against the city prompted A-B-C officials to revert to incarcerating offenders.

The lawsuit, filed recently by a U-A student, is challenging the legitimacy of the minor-in-possession charge.

A-B-C board administrator Emory Folmar accused the city and the police department of shirking their responsibility to enforce the state's liquor laws.

If a Tuscaloosa police officer finds a minor in possession of alcohol, they are issued a citation and ordered to appear in municipal court. But if that same suspect is intoxicated, the officer also charges him with public intoxication and takes him to the Tuscaloosa County Jail.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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