Preventing Underage Drinking as a Community Member

The Legal Drinking Age is 21: Stop Underage Drinking, Don’t Buy, Don’t Supply!

As a community member, your role in preventing underage drinking is just as important as that of parents and guardians. If you suspect that people under 21 may be involved in underage drinking, that an adult is providing alcohol to an underage drinker or that a retailer is selling to underage persons,

please contact our tip line, 1-888-207-0702.

Dangers of Underage Drinking/Statistics

Many drink alcohol as a way to show independence, to deal with stress and to fit in without recognizing the dangers it can place on your life. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recognizes that underage drinking can cause the following range of risks and negative consequences:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • Impairs judgement
  • Interferes with brain development
  • Increases the risk of physical and sexual assault
  • Increases the risk of alcohol problems later in life
  • Can lead to other behavioral and drug related problems

In a recent survey of Cleveland County students:

reported they use alcohol at home or at a friend’s house

reported using alcohol in the past year

reported alcohol was available when parents were not home

reported alcohol is “fairly or very easy to get”

reported alcohol was available when parents were not monitoring

reported they get alcohol from an older adult, sibling or parent

reported they steal alcohol from parents

Source: Pride Survey, March 2015, grades 9 and 12

How Underage Drinkers Get Alcohol

Steal from Store – 3%

Store Sell to Them  –  6%

Buy Using Fake ID – 7%

Get Stranger to Buy – 9%

Parents Buy – 10%

Steal From Parents – 22%

Older Siblings Buy for Them – 43%


Legal Consequences of Providing Alcohol to someone under 21

Many underage drinkers admit that it is very easy to obtain alcohol without actually paying for it.  They obtain it from older friends, friends’ parents and even from their own homes. If you provide an underage person with alcohol, you are not only contributing to a greater public health problem, but you are breaking the law.

By supplying an underage drinker with alcohol, fines may add up to $2,000 and/or up to two years in jail.  You could be charged with a felony if death or injury results.

If you are over the age of 21 and are charged with aiding and abetting, the charges may include:

  • A minimum $500 fine
  • Minimum 25 hours of community service

If you have been convicted of the same charge within the past 4 years, charges will increase to a minimum $1,000 fine and 150 hours of community service plus the revocation of your driver’s license

Shoulder Tap Surveys

As an adult 21 years of age or older, if you were approached by someone under the age of 21 in a convenient store parking lot and was asked to purchase alcohol for him/her, would you do it?  If you answered, “no”—good choice!  If you answered “maybe”, “yes” or “I don’t know”, you better think again!

You should NEVER purchase or provide alcohol to an underage drinker.  Not only is it dangerous for a person under the age of 21 to consume alcohol due to numerous health and safety risks, but it is also ILLEGAL!  Furthermore, that young person you just agreed to purchase alcohol for may be working as an undercover decoy for law enforcement as part of a shoulder tap survey.

As part of an initiative of the Cleveland County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to reduce youth access to alcohol, local law enforcement officers are conducting Shoulder Tap Surveys.  During these surveys, officers work with young people under the age of 21 to ask adults in local convenient and grocery store parking lots to purchase alcohol for them.  If the adult agrees to purchase alcohol for the underage youth, they are immediately greeted by a law enforcement officer.  The officer then explains the legal consequences the customer could face for purchasing alcohol for an underage drinker.  While at this time officers are not citing customers for agreeing to purchase, there are plans to move to citations/criminal charges in the future.  For now, this is an opportunity to educate parents and other adults about the importance of never purchasing and providing alcohol to underage drinkers.

If you help an underage person buy alcohol, you could:

  • • Face fines up to $2,000
  • • Serve 150 hours of community service and/or up to two years in jail

You may charged with a felony if death or injury occur as a result

So the question is now posed again, “If you were approached by someone under the age of 21 in a convenient store parking lot and was asked to purchase alcohol for him/her, would you do it?”  Hopefully, now your answer is “no” if it wasn’t the first time.  By refusing to purchase alcohol for an underage drinker you could save a life and save yourself from legal consequences!

This website was developed, in part, under grant number 1H79SP020340-01 from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The views, opinions, and content of this publication are those of the authors and contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of ONDCP, SAMHSA, or HHS, and should not be construed as such.Copyright 2015 Cleveland County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition | All Rights Reserved | The Awen Group