PCB Leads State in Underage Drinking Arrests

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

Panama City Beach leads the state in the number of arrests for underage drinking and sales to minors. Agents from the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco are working overtime this spring break to crack down on underage drinking.

In their first two weeks on special spring break duty, agents from the Division of Alcohol Beverages and Tobacco have already made more than 900 arrests, and they'll see hundreds more before they leave in two weeks.

I spent only two hours with the agents on Tuesday, and in that time they made seven arrests and confiscated a truck load of alcohol.

"There's a lot of action here, a lot of kids. We have issued a lot of paper arrests for underage possession," AB&T Chief A.J. Smith says.

Chief A.J. Smith and Officer Carmen Puentes-Croye have only been here for two weeks and already they've heard every excuse in the book. At only 5 o'clock in the afternoon, they've already given out seven paper arrests.

The college kids will go home with a second-degree misdemeanor on their record and a court date. An unlikely hotspot for these agents is Wal-Mart. Only 15 minutes at the Supercenter and the agents made two arrests and gave out two warnings.

Twenty AB&T agents work the beach every day. Smith says it's their presence here that's sending a message and undoubtedly saving lives.

"We want to be firm, but fair. We want to have a presence. We want the kids to know we are out here and we have a job to do, and don't drink ‘til you're 21," Chief A.J. Smith says.

Although Panama City Beach leads the state in the number of underage drinking arrests, Smith says we're also home to the most spring breakers. The AB&T agents will continue their crackdown for another two weeks.


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