Officials step up underage alcohol enforcement during Firefly Festival

DOVER — Some early numbers were positive as the Firefly Music Festival came to life Wednesday and Thursday.

Citations for underage alcohol-related violations in the event’s vicinity dropped from 2017, authorities said.

The lessened offense rate was even better since more agents were monitoring nearby liquor stores than the year before.

“Hopefully the word got out or is getting out,” Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement spokesman Lt. Jim Diana said.

Just after noon Thursday, 16 persons had been charged with an infraction, mostly for entering and remaining in a liquor store while underage. A couple fake identification cards were confiscated and one incident involved providing alcohol to a minor, DATE reported.

Agents hoped to make even fewer cases today as the entertainment draw continued to increase over the weekend.

“It’s our hope that (the visitors) may want to get in and enjoy the music instead of being on the outskirts and dealing with us,” Lt. Diana said, adding that staff will continue to monitor the area.

The process proceeded without incident early on, Lt. Diana said. Agents began enforcement efforts at approximately 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and continued through the evening.

A preliminary review of citations issued Wednesday through Justice of the Peace Court 7 in Dover showed supposed violators coming from Potomac, Maryland, Flemington, New Jersey, Centreville, Maryland, Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania, West Nyack, New York, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Ages of alleged offenders ranged from 18 to 20.

At least two cases were discharged with a probation before judgment without conviction or delinquency, resulting in a $50 fine and another $85 in apparently associated court and victim’s compensation fund costs, according to court documents.

Large warning signs were posted on the front door and windows of alcohol outlets regarding the illegality of entering when 20 or younger.

“They have to understand that there’s no reason for them to enter a liquor store if they’re less than 21 years old,” Lt. Diana said.

Thwarting would be underage drinkers is done for their own safety, Lt. Dina said, with concern for dehydration combined with rising temperatures at the forefront.

According to DATE, agents contacted business vendors, managers and staff beforehand, providing information and answering questions on how to best address the potential for minors arriving through their doors.

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