Increase in underage drinking as graduation, school year ends

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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Now that school is out and graduation season is coming to an end, the time to celebrate is starting to begin.

Underage Drinking (Source: David Mertl / CC BY 2.0)

Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt understands this is an exciting time, but he warns people, especially if they're minors, to think twice before engaging in certain activities.

"Every year at this time, it does become a problem where the kids get out of school and like to celebrate, and sometimes they take it a little too far and start abusing alcohol, marijuana, and other things like that,” he explained.

Even though underage drinking after graduation is a common tradition, Sheriff Zyburt says it can create a lot of trouble for teenagers.

A minor in possession for the first time is a civil infraction and a $100 fine.

If the minor commits the crime again, the punishment increases to a misdemeanor followed by a $250 fine, probation and in some cases, education classes.

"The big thing is, you're not only taking their own life risking that, but when they get behind the wheel they're risking other people's lives, so it's important to not drive if you've had anything to drink because you don't want to risk other people's lives or your own,” said Sheriff Zyburt.

Underage drinking not only hurts your future but it can also affect your health. Marquette County health officials say it can lead to life-long problems such as brain damage and even changes in hormones.

"I think a lot of teens and adults think that alcohol is not that bad in comparison to other drugs, so they think that there isn't as many consequences, but there are a lot of different health consequences to drinking,” said Health Educator Jennifer Eyler.

Sheriff Zyburt and Eyler hope teenagers will choose wisely with this information, instead of risking everything over something that can easily be avoided.

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