News 12 First at Five / Monday, April 16, 2012
EVANS, Ga. -- Saturday night was a busy one for Columbia County deputies.
In a matter of hours, nearly 35 teenagers and young adults were cited for what the Sheriff's Office is calling an ongoing problem.
"Bottom line is ... there is no safe place, it's irresponsible, and it's a crime," explained Columbia County Sheriff's Cpt. Steve Morris.
The Sheriff's Office is taking a strong stance against underage drinking in Columbia County.
"We're always fearful that once they consume alcohol, they're going to leave, some are going to drive away, they're going to hurt themselves or hurt other people," Morris said.
On the 4000 block of Sussex Drive, 11 minors, some of them Greenbrier students, were ticketed for throwing a party while the adults were away.
Then on the 3000 block of Greenway Drive, 23 teenagers were cited for underage drinking. Most of them were Lakeside High School seniors celebrating prom night.
"Of course summer is right around the corner and we encounter these parties quite often during the summer as well, but certainly this time of year with prom season," Morris said.
Inside the home, deputies found party rules posted by the homeowner saying: "No alcohol downstairs, no loud music/noise outside and have fun."
Rachael Arrington, a mother of one of the teens, was arrested.
"The homeowner, the adult, was charged with contributing," Morris said. "When you allow this to happen, it sends a mixed message and a dangerous message to these young people -- that they can disobey this law, but they have to obey others."
Investigators say some parents believe in giving teenagers a safe place to drink, but they warn adults that can be far from a reality.
"Fortunately, no one was hurt, no one was injured, no one died. We're thankful for that, but the bottom line is there is no safe place for underage drinking," he said.
Lakeside High School says there were not any incidents at the prom and that all illegal activity happened off school grounds. Each group of teenagers will appear before a magistrate judge.
Investigators say the punishment is typically a fine and community service.