SAN DIEGO–Thousands of college, high school, and middle school students are already or will soon be on summer break, a time when underage drinking tends to go up.
In an effort to keep alcohol away from minors, County officials are reminding adults that it is against the law to host underage drinking parties or to allow minors to drink.
“With teens being out of school and parents busy at work, the summer months provide a prime opportunity for minors to be unsupervised and possibly consume alcohol,” said Vice-Chairman Greg Cox, County Board of Supervisors. “We ask parents to be aware of what their children are doing. We are also asking adults to act responsibly and not provide alcohol to minors.”
Minors are not allowed to buy alcohol, but they can easily get it from older friends, strangers willing to buy it for them, store clerks who fail to check IDs, the internet, their friend’s parents, and their own parents.
“Minors are not allowed to buy alcohol, period. Whenever minors drink, one question must be asked: ‘Who provided the alcohol?’” asked Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who in 2003 recommended the unincorporated areas of the county adopt a “social host” ordinance.
Today, the 18 cities and all unincorporated areas of the County of San Diego have adopted “social host” ordinances, making it illegal to host underage drinking parties. Anybody who sells or provides an alcoholic beverage to a minor can receive a fine up to $1,000, six months in jail or both.
Preventing underage drinking and other substance abuse is part of the County’s Live Well, San Diego! initiative, a 10-year plan to improve the health of area residents.
According to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey, 13 percent of 8th graders, 27 percent of 10th graders and 40 percent of 12th graders indicated they had consumed alcoholic beverages in the past 30 days..
“Underage drinking is not a rite of passage. Giving alcohol to a minor can lead to criminal penalties or, worse, the loss of a loved one,” said Susan Bower, director of HHSA’s Alcohol and Drug Services. “We urge adults to act responsibly and to help us keep the teens in our community safe and sober.”
To prevent teens from drinking, officials recommend that parents monitor and secure alcohol at home. They should also set summertime rules and supervise and monitor their children’s behavior at home and when visiting friends.
Parents who suspect their child might have a drinking problem are encouraged to call the County of San Diego Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240.