VIRGINIA

Fairfax County police step up Memorial Day weekend patrols

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Fairfax County police are out in full force this Memorial Day weekend, keeping holiday celebrations in check.

The department is trying to reverse some sobering statistics. This weekend, emergency room visits are expected to jump 11 percent due to underage drinking.

One local father is pleading with teens to think before they drink.

"He had the whole world in front of him and gone in an instant," Jeff Levy says.

Not a day goes by that Jeff Levy doesn't think about his son, and the wrong decision that ended his life.

Levy adds, "It basically destroyed our family."

Twenty-year-old Jon and a friend were killed when they got behind the wheel drunk.

It happened back in 1997, but the pain that comes with burying a child persist.

"It was something that was totally avoidable, and what it took was basically using some good judgment and good judgment is one of the things that goes out the window when we talk about underage drinking," Levy says.

Levy hopes his story will open teen's eyes to the dangers of drinking.

Earlier this month, Fairfax police arrested a dozen party-goers for underage drinking and smoking marijuana. Officers say the group gathered at a home while the parent was gone for the evening.

Fairfax police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell says, "Almost not a weekend goes by, especially when you have the nice weather and this sort of thing. It's this time of year where we're responding to some sort of party where there are teenagers who are being served alcohol."

In a recent Fairfax County youth survey, 20 percent of high school seniors reported binge drinking within the last two weeks. Nearly 37 percent of them admitted consuming alcohol in the past 30 days, and 65 percent of underage youth said they get alcohol from family and friends.

"There's the really crime, shame, horror in this whole thing is that parents just don't understand what's at risk. They all say it couldn't happen to me. Well, I was in that boat too," Levy says.

Each year, in Fairfax County alone, around 350 crashes are blamed on drunk drivers between the ages of 15 and 24-years-old.

To help curb that statistic, police will step up patrols and conduct sobriety check points.

They've also declared the month of May "Parents who host, lose the most," reminding adults they can be prosecuted for hosting underage drinking parties.

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