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Combating drunken driving and underage drinking at Country USA

Country USA alcohol wristband booth Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (WLUK/Pafoua Yang)

NEKIMI (WLUK) -- As country singer Carly Pearce rocked the stage with her voice, a fan in the crowd, Chase Anderson, said he's "just enjoying the view and enjoying the music and, well drinking."

Anderson said his group of friends knew they would be drinking at the festival, so they decided to camp instead of drive back to Appleton.

"We have that one friend who cuts down on the drinking or doesn't drink at all, just so we have somebody trustworthy to go home in the morning," explained Anderson.

Sgt. Dan Diedrich of the Wisconsin State Patrol told FOX 11 it's a good idea to have a dependable friend.

"We encourage you going and have fun at Country USA, but have a safety plan for getting home, whether that's friends or relatives or using, things like Uber, local taxi services or another sober friend," said Diedrich.

Diedrich said there's been an uptick in underage drinking at Country USA. Last year, there were 44 underage citations handed out. He said two people were arrested for operating while intoxicated.

"We always work really close with the Oshkosh police and Winnebago County sheriff because we recognize that we have a role to play as well to keep our fans safe," said Country USA promoter Derek Liebhauser.

Liebhauser said people can bring drinks and food onto the campgrounds; however, it's restricted on the festival grounds.

"We're really strict with our alcohol and wristband policy, so if you want to drink you must present a valid formal identification for that wristband. And we watch our bartenders very close when they're serving alcohol," Liebhauser explained.

To try and keep issues from happening, the State Patrol got extra funding for overtime during the event week.

"The goal of the State Patrol is not to be out there and make a lot of arrests, we'd much rather have people making the good decisions and getting the safe drive home," Diedrich said.

The State Patrol said citations for underage drinking start at $250 to $300.

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