A room filled in Botetourt County with interested parties to discuss alcohol and under age drinking legislation in the General Assembly in the coming session. The annual event sponsored by local agencies like RAYSAC and Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare took place at Greenfield Education and Training Center. RAYSAC’s Kathy Sullivan spoke to efforts to spread the word about the seriousness of underage drinking.
The panel featured Joel Branscom, Commonwealth Attorney, Delegate Chris Head, Delegate Greg Habeeb, Judge Paul Tucker, Steve Buffalo Assistant Agent in Charge, ABC, Steve Clark, PHD, Director, Campus Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center.
Two items of interest came up. Last year Head introduced House Bill 1163, a bill that did not make it out of the General Assembly. Having a year to look at it, “New legislation,” Head said, “is likely on the way.”
Two areas the panel decide to explore are more stringent Identity age checks when alcohol is ordered and the tracking of beer kegs as to buyer and address. Another area mentioned was stronger laws on social hosting by parents and adults.
YOVASO students from Lord Botetourt High School presented statistics from the 2011 risk behavior survey that detailed that 39% of Roanoke Valley High School students were drinking alcohol. 22.6% were binge drinking–5 or more drinks in a 2 hour period in the past 30 days.
Susan Rieves Austin presented a Roanoke Valley wide phone poll survey conducted in September. Alarmingly, only 51% of respondees thought it was very wrong for under age persons to drink. 67% of those polled believe it is somewhat easy for young people under 21 to get alcohol and 52% think there is no way to prevent underage drinking.
Clark brought up the problem of alcohol on college campuses through out the state. After interesting and informative discussion, the meeting adjourned with Head and Habeeb full of information to aid their potential legislation proposals.