Under-Age Drinking Initiative
According to the UMC Safe Communities, every 19 minutes a teen dies as the result of an alcohol related crash in the United States. The population in El Paso is approximately 800,000 and 29% of that number are under the age of 18. In 2011, El Paso had 74 traffic fatalities, and 8 of the 74 crashes involved teens. Five of those 8 teen fatalities involved alcohol. Underage drinking and driving causes preventable deaths and injuries which destroy families spiritually and financially.
In February of 2000, five teenagers were on their way home after a night of partying in Juarez, Mexico and crashed in a horrible, tragic crash. They were less than 2 miles from the border when the driver of the car lost control and careened into a barricade. The car veered across the divided highway, and crashed into the apex of an ascending bridge. The car wedged under the ramp, killing all five of the teenagers. The Central Regional Commander along with the Central Citizens Advisory Board placed underage drinking and driving on a priority list after this horrible crash which took the lives of these five teens on Paisano Drive.
The Central Police Commander and the Central Citizens Advisory Board members formed committees with patrol officers, Par officers, community's members and MADD advocates to develop strategies for prevention of underage drinking in the 13 to 16 age group:
International Bridge Outreach - Officers and CAB members met at the Paso Del Norte Bridge to Mexico (US side of the Port of Entry) and spoke with teens on the consequences of underage drinking and placing a red wrist band on the designated person who would drive the group home. This person receives free sodas and water while at the nightclub or bar in Juarez, Mexico. This particular aspect was accomplished through an agreement with "Avenida de Juarez" Nightclub and Bar Owner's Association. International Bridge Outreach and Bridge Operations came to a halt with the enforcement of passport entry into Mexico a couple of years ago.
However, the "Stop Underage Drinking" poster contest still is conducted annually in conjunction with the CAB, BorderRac, David Carrasco Job Corp and the El Paso Police Department. Officers from the El Paso Police Department, as well as school resource personnel from the Sheriff's Department go into high schools to network with teachers from El Paso and New Mexico and student activity coordinators and art teachers to promote this initiative to create posters with a "Stop Underage Drinking" theme. What started just in the central area of El Paso has now grown to include high schools in El Paso County and southern NM over the last 3 years. In 2012, the EPPD had 162 entries, and 10 exceptional winning posters. The top three posters are posted on this website and displayed in locations where alcohol is sold in hopes that the underage will not attempt to buy alcohol, that adults will not buy for underage individuals and that clerks will be diligent in "ID'ing" everyone that purchases alcohol.