According to statistics compiled by the National center for disease control,  A  2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days:

  • 45% drank some amount of alcohol.
  • 26% binge  drink.
  • 11% drove after drinking alcohol.
  • 29% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Unfortunately, some parents feel that under age drinking parties are “OK” , as long as the participants don’t drive. This could not be further from the truth. State Law has been amended and now allows individuals in charge of the premises to be charged with FURNISHING ALCOHOL TO A  MINOR if they knew  or SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that the minors (other than their own children) were consuming alcohol  in the residence. This Department has, and will, criminally charge adults who violate this law. They can also be held civilly liable for any injuries to anyone as a result of the incident.

It is not enough to “take the keys”. There are any number of things that can happen to youth who drink to excess besides drinking and driving. They are all bad. Drinking also increases the risk of injury from, falls, burns, drowning, and suicide. Drinking lowers inhibitions and clouds judgement. Those who drink to excess may commit a crime or become the victim of one. It is not uncommon for underage females to become a rape victim after having consumed alcohol at parties.

Severe medical problems can result from excessive drinking. Binge drinking results in a large amount of alcohol being ingested in a short period of time. This can lead to heart and respiratory systems shutting down. Youth who pass out can aspirate their own vomit, causing them to, literally, drown. 

There are also legal implications for minors who purchase,  transport or possess alcohol. Anyone under 21 can NOT operate a MV if there is alcohol anywhere inside unless their parent or guardian is with them. A violation can result in arrest, criminal sanctions, and loss of license.  No one can operate a MV if there are open containers of alcohol inside., and a person under age 21 can face license suspension for operating a MV with a .02 blood alcohol level. That is approximately 1 drink!

There are many resources available  for parents who wish to learn more about the prevalence and ramifications of under age alcohol abuse. Here are a few useful links:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Service  Stop alcohol abuse  National Institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism  Drug Free Alliance Web resources for parents to combat underage drinking

or you can contact School resource Officer Kurt Carpenter  (467-9222) - all communications are kept in confidence.