Underage drinking laws to be enforced

MERRIMACK – The Merrimack Police Department will be stepping up enforcement of underage drinking laws during the next several months.

The department received an $11,000 grant from state’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which funds enforcement, deterrence and education of underage drinking, according to police.

In conjunction with the state attorney general’s underage drinking initiative, Merrimack police will have plainclothes officers patrolling the parking lots of alcohol retailers, hotels and motels and known party locations, according to a prepared statement.

In June, police Capt. Peter Albert and Police Chief Michael Milligan went before the town council for its acceptance of the grant. Milligan said then that the money would cover two officers working Friday and Saturday nights.

Officers will work with retail owners to monitor alcohol sales to underage people and with New Hampshire Liquor Enforcement officials in performing compliance checks with retailers, bars and restaurants, the statement said.

Police will also investigate people who host or facilitate underage drinking parties. Milligan said at the meeting that seven people older than 21 were charged last year with hosting such parties. Information on these parties can be reported to the police department at 424-3774 or the Crimeline at 424-2424.

The grant also covers educational brochures explaining drinking laws, which officers will hand out while on the special patrols.

The council accepted the grant, 4-1, with Councilor Mike Malzone opposing. Councilor Betty Spence abstained.

In the press statement, police reminded the community that it has a “no tolerance policy” regarding underage drinkers, who, if found intoxicated or in possession of alcohol, may be placed in protective custody and released to their parents or guardians.

In New Hampshire, the legal limit for intoxication for people younger than 21 is .02 percent.