ALE targets underage drinking in Boone

The+Appalachian+Online

The Appalachian Online

Laney Ruckstuhl

The North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, better known as ALE, is a branch under the State Bureau of Investigation that regulates underage drinking and purchasing of alcohol.

ALE makes regular visits to Appalachian State University and surrounding establishments in the town of Boone to regulate the sale and purchase of alcohol and other products.

“We have several goals, some including the regulation of age-restricted products including alcohol, tobacco, lottery [tickets], etc.,” said state ALE officer Oscar Qureshi.

Qureshi said ALE works with University Police and Student Judicial Services. The two sides of the job are criminal business and regulatory business.

“We have come to campus a couple of times and conducted several campaigns and found several underage persons,” Qureshi said.

University Police Captain Johnny Brown said ASU police does not have its own separate ALE officers. ALE focuses more on private establishments than campus itself.

Last year, changes were made in Boone when many local bars and restaurants made a switch to only allow 21-and-up customers after 10 p.m.

“We did not personally change the bars to 21-and-up,” Qureshi said. “For liability reasons we prompted the owners to change it due to excess drinking tickets, getting both students and the business’ in financial issues with the law.”

Brown said the 21-and-up change has not made a substantial difference in the amount of drinking tickets University Police has given out over the past year.

“There was a small decrease last year, but nothing that has been huge,” Brown said. “The majority of what we deal with comes from Housing.”

Qureshi said rumors that their officers go undercover at tailgates and other events and offer drinks to students to trick them into getting drinking tickets are  false.

“We do not go undercover, we wear what we would normally wear about 99% of the time,” Qureshi said. “We do hire minors for complaints of alcohol from individuals and from businesses.”

Brown said ALE has decreased their presence on Appalachian’s campus in recent years due to lack of resources.

“Maybe three or four years ago they worked every home ballgame, but the last couple years, it seems like they just haven’t had the resources to be able to help us,” Brown said.

Concerning what an ALE officer is specifically looking for before questioning students, Qureshi said it boils down to a couple main signals.

“Some of it is the youthful appearance and we can check IDs based on that,” Qureshi said. “Another indicator is if they are falling down or getting sick.”

ALE does not promote underage drinking, but supports the usage of beepers and the buddy system. Although they do not believe those sources should be an excuse for underage drinking, they believe caution is key, and to remain safe under certain conditions is vital.

“If people are choosing to drink underage, keep it at a reasonable amount,” Brown said.

He said he would also like people to be aware that they can call the police for help if they are ever around someone who is drinking and reaches a dangerous level of intoxication.

Due to medical amnesty laws, students can call the police if they or a friend is in trouble and they will not be penalized under the law for underage drinking.

ASU police want all students to remain safe and smart when it comes to drinking underage or drinking in general. If anyone has questions and/or concerns, he or she is encouraged to talk to Boone Police at (828)-262-9600, or ASU Police at (828)-262-2150.

Story: Mary Wood, Intern News Reporter and Laney Ruckstuhl, News Editor