The Oregonian, Thursday, Aug. 29, 1996, "MetroEast" zoned section, p. 2, 3M-ME

This Week's Question

What can be done to stop minors from drinking?

Last month, four Forest Grove teens died following a high-speed, alcohol-related crash on Northwest Verboort Road. Three of the occupants had been drinking, including the 16-year-old driver, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent and a high level of cocaine in his system.

Last year in Oregon, 134 people under age 21 were killed in traffic accidents - nearly one-fourth of all traffic fatalities in the state. Of the minors killed, 43 - nearly one-third - had been drinking or were in vehicles where the driver had been drinking.

How can we stop the youthful carnage?

Teens admit it's easy to get booze, whether buying it themselves at stores where clerks don't check IDs or having somebody 21 or older buy it for them. They also get it from their parents' liquor cabinets or home refrigerator, or go to parties where somebody's older brother or cousin gives them the booze.

Should there be tougher penalties? Should the drinking age be lowered? How can the Oregon Liquor Control Commission get store clerks to check IDs? Maybe breathalyzers should be installed on all cars so they won't start if the driver has been drinking.

Some insurance companies have a "zero-tolerance" attitude and cancel policies so that a teen can't drive until age 21 if he or she is caught with alcohol, whether in a car or not. What do you think the solution is?



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