drinkingandgraduationGraduation and Underage Drinking

With prom and graduation season upon us, many law enforcement groups are collaborating to advise teens and their parents on a very simple and straightforward message: “Underage drinking is illegal and it will not be tolerated.”

Many store owners display signs warning teens or their parents of the consequences of getting caught drinking while underage. Law enforcement hopes this deters individuals from doing so. While many think teenagers are solely to blame for underage drinking around graduation time, there is much evidence that indicates that parents are equally to blame in many cases. In fact, many parents see high school graduation as a “rite of passage” where alcohol should be “allowed” to be consumed by underage graduates. Law enforcement wants to emphasize that no occasion is exempt from breaking the laws associated with underage drinking.

If you are concerned that your child may engage in underage drinking around graduation, research shows that involvement is the best way to prevent this. Knowing who your teens are with, where they are, and what they are doing encourages teens to understand that others are aware of their actions – and their underage drinking. Hosting a party at your home can also allow you to keep an eye on things and watch out for underage drinking during graduation.



Did you know that underage drinking and alcohol abuse in Utah cost the state more than $357 million dollars in 2010?  It’s crazy to think about, but when you add youth injury, alcohol treatment, violence and traffic crashes, the numbers start to add up.

According to a recent report by the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, there are approximately 60,000 underage drinkers consuming alcohol in Utah each year!  And, in 2009, underage drinkers consumed 5.5 percent of the alcohol in the state, which translates to $107 million in sales.  These numbers are staggering, especially because underage drinkers are more susceptible to long-term alcohol abuse behaviors.

Here are some more statistics.  According to the same report, in 2009, students grades nine through 12 reported the following statistics:

  • 38.6 percent had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more days during their life.
  • 11.5 percent had their first drink of alcohol, other than a few sips, before age 13.
  • 18.2 percent had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more occasion in the past 30 days.
  • 11.5 percent had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row (binge drinking) in the past 30 days.
  • 2.7 percent had at least one drink of alcohol on school property in the past 30 days.

Information courtesy of the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center

What do we do about underage drinking in Utah?

First, parents should take an active role in their children’s lives. Know where your kids are, and what they’re doing.  Second, alcohol in the home should be locked up and secured.  Third, if an underage drinker asks you to buy alcohol for them, don’t!  Not only are you aiding an underage drinker, but it could get you one year in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.

Bottom line, underage drinking in Utah is a serious problem.  Do everything in your power to stop someone you know from underage drinking.  Who knows?  You may just save a life.

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