Despite cuts to the Alcohol Law Enforcement program, North Carolina is looking for new ways to combat underage drinking — and the $1.5 billion it costs the state every year.
Luther Snyder, spokesman for the Alcohol Beverage Control commission, said the ABC commission allocated $1.5 million to start the North Carolina Preventing Underage Drinking Initiative, a newly-formed department that aims to both educate young people about the dangers of drinking and more strictly enforce the alcohol laws that are already in existence.
The initiative comes after last summer’s budget cuts to ALE, the state’s main agency in charge of enforcing the Alcohol Beverage Control Laws.
ALE had a budget of $13.1 million in 2010, but in the past few years, Snyder said ALE’s budget has been decreasing. It took the biggest cut last summer . ALE’s statewide budget was reduced by $1.5 million to $9.9 million, Snyder said. Ten ALE positions were lost as a result of the cuts.
The N.C. Department of Public Safety said in a statement that ALE has the same number of sworn agents that it had in 1992 when there were only 15,000 ABC licensed establishments. There are now 25,000 ABC licensed establishments in the state.