Va. students target adults who supply teens with alcohol

By Sunlen Miller

Debbie Sausville from Alexandria, Virginia knows the cost of adults illegally buying minors alcohol. Her step-daughter was killed in 2004 because an adult bought her alcohol.

“She was provided two cases of beer and four shots of vodka and she crashed her car and was killed instantly,” Debbie Sausville said today, “you can have all the pictures of your kids growing up but those last photos from the crash scene and the view of her in her casket, that’s the consequence of drunk driving.”

Sausville said she knows her step-daughter would have still been alive if an adult did not purchase alcohol for her and allow her to drive drunk.

43% of high school students in Alexandria, Virginia say they have drank alcohol in the last month, alcohol that had to be purchased and given to them by an adult.

“If the kids cannot get ahold of alcohol they can’t get drink and they can’t drive drunk,” Sausville said.

With high school homecoming and Halloween parties coming up, a group of Alexandria high school students are trying to think ahead: and are targeting the adults who are the suppliers.

“I think it’s important because it’s coming from our point of view, the people who would be getting the alcohol from adults,” Ashely Martin, a Sophomore at TC Williams said, “They could really be hurting someone. If you’re thinking about, you could put them in so much danger, and their family in anger and turmoil. So they should just think twice before they do it.

The students from TC Williams High School today visited 60 area convenience stores that sell alcohol. As part of the “Sticker Shock” campaign they are slapping stickers on cases of beer in the stores with a stern warning: that if an adult is buying this alcohol for someone who is underage they could face a tough penalty – up to one year in jail and a $2,5000 fine.

“The sticker shock campaign is all about awareness and education but also it’s a visual kind of in your fact stop, think about what you’re doing,” Alexandria’s Deputy Police Chief Hassan Aden said today. “This campaign is aimed at awareness. Awareness both for the kids and business and anyone who might be contemplating purchasing, doing kids a ‘favor’ by purchasing alcohol. It is not a favor it is illegal and if we are able, we’ll make arrests.”

7-11 Assistant Manager Zerihun Fita says he has seen adults numerous times try to buy alcohol for teenagers and that’s why he is allowing the “Sticker Shock” students to outfit the bottles in his store with the warnings.

“We don’t want that thing to happen in our store. In any store,” Fita says, “I hope they’ll understand and it’s going to reduce the problem.”

That is exactly what the students hope – that the stickers will help the adults at least think before buying for minors when they see their bright red stickers on the beer cases.

“It at least gives people recognition – a choice, a choice to make and maybe they’ll leave with a little bit of guilt, at least something on their heart aright well saying I saw that,” Ariane Jaffee, a Junior says, “Something to at least think about.”