Drinking Under 21

Underage drinking is becoming more and more prevalent, as the punishments for it grow increasingly stricter.

Learn about the laws and penalties pertaining to drinking under the legal age.

Underage Drinking Facts

Although federal law prohibits any person under the age of 21 from consuming alcohol, underage drinking remains a common offense in the United States. Each year, approximately 5,000 deaths occur as a direct result of underage alcohol consumption. With such staggering statistics, it’s easy to understand why lawmakers tend to punish individuals who violate the federal drinking laws quite severely. Continue reading for other common underage drinking facts.

The Prevalence Of Underage Drinking

Studies indicate that the average person has had his or first alcoholic beverage by the age of 14. According to surveys, two out of five eight-grade students have tried alcohol, and once they’ve reached tenth grade, the number becomes two out of three. By the time a student reaches twelfth grade, there’s a 75% chance that he or she has consumed alcohol on at least one occasion.

Unfortunately, research shows that individuals who start drinking at a relatively early age are far more likely to have serious health concerns and/or engage in risky behaviors. What’s more, underage drinkers also tend to participate in binge drinking more frequently than individuals who have reached the legal drinking age of 21.

The Dangers Of Binge Drinking

A term used to describe the rapid consumption of several alcoholic drinks in a short period of time, binge drinking can be extremely dangerous due to the speed at which it can cause a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) to rise—a factor that can often lead to alcohol poisoning or even death.

In their efforts to deter underage drinking, lawmakers in all 50 states have introduced laws to punish minors who attempt to consume and/or purchase alcohol. From enacting zero tolerance laws to make it a crime for anyone under 21 to operate a vehicle with a BAC above 0.00% to punishing merchants who sell alcohol to minors, each state has strict legislation in place to prevent the offense. As a result of these laws, a person arrested for underage drinking could face a number of criminal penalties, including fines, a license suspension, probation, or even jail time.