With as many as 60,000 driver's license suspensions in Georgia every year due to driving under the influence (DUI), there is an urgent need to reduce these numbers, particularly for those who are under age. A good start would be to reduce the number of DUIs under-21 by training employees at establishments that serve alcohol to check out who is buying, and make sure they aren't under age.
If very basic, fundamental information is obtained from those who appear to be under age, not only would the stats for underage charges and convictions for DUI be reduced, but potentially so would accidents and fatalities resulting from DUI.
What Employees Need to Be Trained to Check when SellingThe first issue is never to rely on face value. Lots of girls and boys under the age of 21 look older than they are. By law it is required that those selling and serving alcohol verify that the person they are selling to, or serving, are in fact over age. To do this the person wanting to buy or drink alcohol needs to supply a valid ID document with their photograph on it. Further, it needs to be a form that is legally valid in Georgia. If the person lives in the state and is under the age of 21, the document will have a vertical format.
Employees need to realize that it is totally illegal to sell alcohol to people who are under age. So it is essential that when an ID is produced that they ensure it really does belong to the person presenting the ID. For this reason employees who are checking the credentials of customers need to compare features in ID photographs with those of the person who is producing the ID document. This includes consciously comparing the shape of eyes, ears, noses, as well as skin tone and eye color. Employees should also note date of birth and expiry dates on ID documents.
If age is not verified, the person selling or serving alcohol, or the establishment providing alcoholic beverages could be fined.
It is also illegal for anyone to sell alcohol to anyone who is “visibly intoxicated.” This can also result in convictions and fines.
Alcohol Laws in Georgia
Even though the legal drinking age in Georgia is 21, it is legally allowable to serve alcohol to anyone aged 18 and older with alcohol as long as they are in a restaurant or bar.
The maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers generally is 0.08 percent. But for anyone under 21 there is zero tolerance, and both BAC limits and penalties are stricter. The BAC level is particularly harsh, with anything over 0.02 percent enabling the authorities to impose DUI penalties.
Irrespective of age, any driver who refuses to cooperate in terms of breath, blood, or urine tests for BAC could face an automatic penalty of their driver's license being suspended for up to a year.
When it comes to second DUI convictions, courts are permitted to order that an ignition interlock device be attached to drivers' cars at their expense. Fourth convictions allow confiscation of drivers' vehicles.
Additionally, DUI offenders are sometimes required by the courts to undergo education about the effects of alcohol and assessment and/or treatment for alcohol abuse.
For an underage DUI to have face these kind of penalties can be traumatic, to say the least.
Underage Drinking and DUIs
Research shows that around 90 percent of alcohol drunk by those under the age of 21 years is related to binge drinking. The fact that teenagers and young adults who are not yet 21 often buy energy drinks and other beverages that contain a relatively high alcohol content exacerbates the problem.
There is no doubt that one of the best ways to impact the stats is for those who sell and serve alcohol to train employees thoroughly so they can play a positive role in reducing the number of potential underage DUIs.