Buy drink for minor: Spend 60 days in jail or pay $500 fine

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - There are new signs of a crackdown on underage drinking in Palm Beach County at a time when health statistics show alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined.

New warning signs will soon be appearing all around Palm Beach County in an effort to send a message to potential law-breakers who buy alcohol for anyone under the age of 21.

When bartender Vi Nguyen makes drinks for her customers, she tries to have fun with it.

"I like to make people crazy drinks - whatever drinks you want. It's a lot of fun," she said. But one of the toughest parts of her job, she said, is weeding out potential underage drinkers. "The worst part is saying 'no' to no ID."

Now, Nguyen is getting some help from new signs that are posted behind her bar at Cabo Flats in Delray Beach. The signs have been sent to all 2,700 alcohol vendors in Palm Beach County, appearing in restaurants, bars and convenience stores.

"Actually, I think it could make a great difference," said Mike Smith, a restaurant manager who lives in Royal Palm Beach.

Smith has worked in restaurants for several years, and said he has seen too many teenagers try to get around the law.

"They might think that they can pass a drink of to their buddy here and maybe they're 19 or 20 years old," said Smith. "I think of the ramifications of getting in a car to drive."

The Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition is behind the signs, which are now appearing anywhere alcohol is sold.

On the sign there is also a tip line telephone number. Coalition officials said that anyone - and everyone - should be calling to report law-breakers. The telephone number is 1-877-MEANS-21.

"We ID everyone just to be safe," said Nguyen. :That's the law."

Purchasing alcohol for someone under the age of 21 could be penalized with a 60 jail sentence and a fine up to $500.

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