Minors are not allowed to buy alcohol, yet they have easy access to it. Where do they get if from? Adults, and authorities are warning there are major penalties – even jail – for those who decide to help those under 21 obtain liquor.
Thousands of college, high school and middle school students are or will soon on spring break, a time when underage drinking rises. In an effort to keep alcohol away from minors, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency is reminding adults that it is against the law to host underage drinking parties and to allow minors to drink.
What are the legal risks? Jail is possible:
- Cited or arrested
- Fined $1,000 or more
- Sent to jail for up to six months
- Required to do up to 32 hours of community service
- Billed for law enforcement services
“Minors drink because they get alcohol from parents, older siblings, relatives and friends who are willing to give alcohol to them,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director for HHSA’s Behavioral Health Services division. “Minors drink because there are people willing to accept a bribe and buy them alcohol or store clerks fail to check IDs.”
Every local municipality and unincorporated area has adopted a “social host” ordinance, making it illegal to host underage drinking parties anywhere in San Diego County. A “social host” is anyone who knowingly, or should have known, there was an underage drinking party on property they own, lease or otherwise control.
According to the latest California Healthy Kids Survey, 13 percent of 7th graders, 24 percent of 9th graders and 33 percent of 11th graders had consumed alcohol in the past 30 days.
Furthermore, 6 percent, 14 percent and 22 percent of those groups of students indicated they had binged on alcohol, defined as drinking five or more drinks in a row to become intoxicated quickly.
“Underage drinking is dangerous and binge drinking even more so. Consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time can result in alcohol poisoning which can be fatal,” Aguirre added.
A study from the American Medical Association shows underage drinking is a factor in nearly half of all teen car crashes, the leading cause of death among teenagers. Fights, assaults and sexual assaults also occur.
To report underage drinking parties, contact your local police department, the Sheriff’s Department at(858) 565-5200 or Crime Stoppers Anonymous Tip Line at (888) 580-8477.
Parents who suspect their child might have a drinking problem are encouraged to call the County Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240.
– County News Center
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