Agent talks underage drinking

ATTICA — An agent from the Ohio Investigative Unit spoke to students and parents Wednesday night about the dangers and legal consequences of underage drinking.

Susan Baker is a member of one of two undercover units at the Ohio State Highway Patrol and is stationed in Toledo. She presented The Sober Truth at the event sponsored by the Seneca East High School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter.

Allison Drown, SADD chapter president, said April is Alcohol Awareness Month and proms and graduations are around the corner.

“This is something to educate students and parents about the topics that affect us,” she said.

“You are getting the law straight from the horse’s mouth,” Baker said.

When Baker started in the unit, she said she and her field officer were staking out a carry-out that had been selling tobacco to underage youth when the report of an accident came across the radio. The accident involved two vehicles and teenagers, she said.

A 17-year-old girl and her friend had attended a party. The friend had passed out because he’d had too much to drink and she had consumed a 12-ounce can of beer before driving home. The two met another group leaving the party and the two vehicles started racing down a country road at about 100 mph. The girl’s car failed to stop at an intersection, rolled into a cornfield and landed on its roof.

She was thrown from the vehicle and the boy died from extensive injuries.

“This accident was something I’ll never forget,” Baker said. “All I’ll remember is coming to the accident hearing the girl plead, ‘Please don’t let him die.'”

Baker said the girl was sentenced to 36 months in adult prison. She was a National Honor Society member and a cheerleader who made one mistake and had to live with a felony for the rest of her life.

“Teenagers are risk-takers and feel they are invincible,” Baker said. “Your parents are not going to protect you.”

She also discussed the Parents who Host Lose the Most program.

Baker said the party the night of the fatal accident was at a home where the parents were away on an anniversary trip. The parents of the dead boy later sued them for funeral costs and other expenses and won $250,000, she said.

“How would your parents feel about that?” she asked. “As parents, you have to know what is going on in your home.”

Baker also discussed laws related to underage drinking, including being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, possession, purchasing, attempted purchasing, ordering at an establishment, giving money to others to purchase, sharing the cost and consumption.

If parents are convicted of providing alcohol to underage youth, they can receive six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine, she said.

Baker said parents are not allowed to provide alcohol to their children’s friends or allow their children to drink alcohol at someone else’s home.

“Kids have so much more to face today,” she said. “Why would you put alcohol in their hands?”