CHAPEL HILL -- Dale Pratt-Wilson stepped outside to walk her dog and stopped in her tracks.Strewn about her yard and gravel driveway were 30 to 40 beer cans, four or five glass liquor bottles and other garbage.If the name Dale Pratt-Wilson sounds familiar, it is because she is the founder and director of The Coalition for Alcohol & Drug-Free Teenagers.And she says her trashed lawn is becoming a familiar sight. To varying degrees, she's had at least 15 similar incidents."I've had to replace four mailboxes. My car has been egged. My house has been vandalized, and I've gotten threatening notes," she said."It's ironic," she said. "The work that I do is meant to provide these kids -- really kids just like these -- with the brightest possible future, uncompromised by drugs and alcohol."The Coalition for Alcohol & Drug Free Teenagers includes school board members, law enforcement officials, judges, medical professionals and others who consider teen drinking not just a "rite of passage," but a serious public-health issue that adults have let slide.Pratt-Wilson said she wasn't going to call police after the Jan. 2 incident. But when she began picking up the mess in her yard, she noticed a couple of receipts. Each had a name and address.By four o'clock that day police had charged five teenagers with littering. A sixth suspect, an exchange student returning home to Sweden soon, was not charged.According to police, three of the five teens charged had been issued underage drinking citations at a party in April 2007, just before their high-school graduation. Each of the teens either failed to return phone calls or declined to comment for this article. Chapel Hill Police issued 199 citations for underage drinking in 2007, nearly double the 106 citations the year before, according to police spokesman Lt. Kevin Gunter. In a phone interview Pratt-Wilson said her group is not out to punish teens but to intervene. If a citation is given, the district attorney's office can put first-time offenders into a deferral program where they are assessed and possibly fined. If they cooperate, the DA can decide to dismiss the case so it does not go onto their record, said Meredith Amador, district court supervisor for Orange County.Former Superior Court Judge Ron Bogle, an active coalition member, agreed that the coalition's aim is intervention."Local, county and state law enforcement agencies have been very supportive of [the coalition's] effort," he said in an e-mail. But I should emphasize very clearly that the use of law enforcement is intended as a public health intervention, and is not intended to criminalize the mistakes of youth," he said.The coalition and police department maintain that the citations are an important part of a broader campaign to confront the underage drinking problem on multiple fronts.As with smoking issue, research on underage drinking is showing long-term consequences. A 2006 Duke University study found alcohol use is harmful to the brain (which does not stop physically developing until the age of 25) and sets teens up for adulthood addictions."It's just like the smoking issue," Pratt-Wilson said. "When I was growing up everyone smoked. But then the research started coming out, and now smoking isn't so cool. It was a slow process. It's a marathon, not a sprint."The teens charged with littering are scheduled for court at various times in the next six months. They face community service and a maximum fine of $500.See video of Dale Pratt-Wilson at videos.newsobserver.com.