Underage drinking appears to be on the rise in Saratoga County, according to District Attorney James A. Murphy III.
Murphy said house and rented-venue parties for teens are being discovered by police often, in spite of anti-drinking campaigns in schools and in the media.
“We've had house parties in Mechanicville and Ballston and a party in Clifton Park in the woods near the Stony Creek Reservoir this spring, and last winter we had a big party in a hotel near Exit 15 in Wilton," he said. “That's just the tip of the iceberg.”
Murphy made his annual plea this week to hotel, motel and campground owners to be cautious against renting to potential hosts of underage drinking parties.
He said he has sent letters to nearly 60 accommodations in Saratoga County following several investigations and arrests.
“Investigation of these complaints reveals that youth are renting rooms and drinking alcohol with the assistance of young adults in their twenties who obtain alcohol legally, but then provide alcohol to the underage kids, illegally,” Murphy said.
There have also been incidents of fake identifications being used to obtain alcohol, he said.
A meeting between the state Liquor Authority and Live Nation's beverage vendor to discuss an application for on-premise liquor sales at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this week annoyed Murphy.
“We don't need any more alcohol at events at SPAC," he said. “During the Dave Matthews Band concerts we had four ambulances continually making runs with people who had alcohol poisoning or otherwise overindulged."
He said a 19-year-old woman reported she had been raped in the woods at SPAC during the concert, but when police said they would need a blood screening from her as part of the investigation, she withdrew her complaint, Murphy said.
"A rape investigation was stopped because she was afraid of what the alcohol and drug content of her blood would be," he said. "She said she goes to college on a scholarship and she could lose the money if the school found out what she had taken. We wouldn't have reported anything to the school; I don't know what she was thinking."
Murphy said the availability of alcohol in sweet drinks such as lemonade or fruit drinks has made it more appealing to the younger crowd.
“It tastes good and they drink it down,” he said.
The Saratoga Partnership for Prevention and the Saratoga Springs School District conducted a survey on drinking in late October and early November and found that about half of the 11th and 12th graders reported they had consumed alcohol within 30 days.
State police have set up a hot line for reports of underage parties that are scheduled or underway. That number is 1-866-UNDER21.