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Senate Committee Votes to Crack Down on Underage Drinking

A Senate committee approved a bill designed to crack down on underage drinking. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Right now, police officers can go after young people who are caught holding a can of beer but NOT young people who have consumed alcohol and thrown the container away.

Brad Fisher is a 16-year-old sophomore from Smithville, Missouri.

He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that teens know how to avoid getting in trouble for drinking alcohol.

This problem caught the attention of Senator Luann Ridgeway.

She's sponsoring a bill that would allow officers to ask young people to take a breathalyzer test when there's probable cause.

Clay County Sheriff Paul Vescovo agrees with Ridgeway.

Testifying before the senate committee, Vescovo said he's seen how underage drinkers are able to avoid arrest.

But one senator on the Judiciary Committee expressed concerns that the bill doesn't clearly specify what constitutes probable cause for underage drinking.

Senator Chris Koster says there needs to be a provision that protects the rights of young people.

He says officers should have probable cause or P-C before requiring a young person to blow into a breathalyzer.

The senate committee added a provision that addresses Koster's concerns.

The bill, which is part of a larger crime package passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a unanimous vote.