Moviegoers seeking to escape reality at many theaters around Minnesota will be confronted with a blunt message starting this weekend: Providing alcohol to minors could endanger your freedom.
Moviegoers seeking to escape reality at many theaters statewide will be confronted with a blunt message starting this weekend: Providing alcohol to minors could endanger your freedom.
A state-financed campaign is taking to the movie screens and focusing on people ages 21 to 29, a common source of alcohol for underage drinkers.
"We want them to know this is a big deal," said project director Sheila Nesbitt at the Minnesota Institute of Public Health (MIPH), whose campaign is being funded by the state Department of Public Safety. "Too often, people provide alcohol without thinking about how serious the consequences can be."
The cinema ads will run for eight weeks at theaters in Duluth, St. Cloud, Mankato, Moorhead, Oakdale, Willmar, Hutchinson, New Ulm, North Branch, Sauk Centre, Baudette and Hackensack. The campaign also includes posters and other materials that have been sent to coalitions in those communities.
Anyone who provides alcohol to an underage drinker can be charged with a gross misdemeanor. If the underage drinking results in death or grave bodily injury, the provider can be charged with a felony.
In February, 21-year-old Brandon J. Hedlund was charged in Washington County with providing liquor to someone underage. He allegedly gave vodka to his girlfriend, Alicia R. Haupert, 19, of Afton, and her friends. The young women were then in a car crash as Haupert drove drunk. Killed in the wreck was passenger Andrea Zimmerman, 20, of Stillwater.
"Cases like this are tragic, but all too common," Nesbitt said. "We want to get the word out before someone makes the decision to provide alcohol. Once that drink is handed over, they are responsible for everything that happens."
The MIPH is a nonprofit organization that has addressed various public-health issues for the past 30 years in Minnesota and other states.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482