One such effort to increase information was Gov. Pat McCrory’s Talk It Out campaign, which marked its one-year anniversary last month.
The campaign worked with the ABC Commission to reduce underage drinking through advertisements that emphasized the role parents play in warning their children about the dangers of drinking.
LaRonda Scott, state executive director of the North Carolina chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said drunken driving and underage drinking are dealt with as separate issues because drunken driving only results in one-third of deaths from underage drinking.
Many parents actually provide alcohol for their children, Scott said.
“Some adults feel like it’s a rite of passage,” she said, citing the common belief that since children will drink anyway, adults should teach children how to drink safely to protect them. “But all research shows that this is not true.”
Nail said that it is often easier for underage people to get alcohol during the holidays.
“I think alcohol does become more accessible during the holidays just because there’s a lot of parties going on. Parents may be bringing and having more alcohol in their home readily available,” he said.
Dealing with underage drinking on college campuses poses an additional challenge because of the use of fake IDs, said Sgt. Mike Mineer of Chapel Hill Police Department’s Patrol Division.
“We’re having a harder time discerning between a fake and a legitimate identification card,” Mineer said.
He said the Chapel Hill Police Department is assisting bars in checking people’s identifications to ensure they are not underage — though officers might not check IDs at the door and instead re-examine IDs inside establishments.
Gardner said bars bear responsibility for serving minors, even if the minors are using fake IDs. He said one problem is that in places like Chapel Hill, some bars only check identification at the door.
“The law states very clearly that you have to check them by the person serving the drink,” Gardner said.
The ABC Commission is conducting training programs with all establishments that have alcohol permits in college towns, Gardner said.
“If a young person in North Carolina under 21 years old gets alcohol, it has to come from a North Carolina permitted establishment, either an ABC store or a restaurant or bar,” he said. “So if we can control the source of where the children are getting alcohol from, then maybe we can reduce it.”