County officials and the San Diego Sheriff's Department reminded adults of the major consequences of giving alcohol to minors Tuesday.
It is against the law to provide alcohol to minors, host underage drinking parties and to allow minors to drink.
Deputies say that anyone allowing minors or adults under age 21 to drink alcohol will be held accountable. They may be cited or arrested, fined up to $1000 or more, serve up to six months in jail and face additional fines for law enforcement services, according to county officials.
Although most kids don't drink, there's still a substantial amount that are drinking, said county officials. The latest California Healthy Kids Survey indicates that 18.6 percent of ninth graders and 29.1 percent of eleventh graders drank in the past month.
“Alcohol is easily available to minors,” said Alfredo Aguirre, director for HHSA’s Behavioral Health Services. “They get it from older friends, strangers willing to buy it for them, store clerks who fail to check IDs and adults, including their friend’s parents and sometimes even their own parents.”
Minors caught drinking can be cited for being a misdemeanor minor in possession of alcohol. Those caught with a fake ID, using it to procure alcohol and gain entry into bars or clubs, can be cited for a misdemeanor false identification violation, according to the county.
A minor can be convicted of a misdemeanor, which will appear on their criminal record. They could lose their driver’s license for one year, regardless of whether they were driving a car or not, if there’s any trace of alcohol in their body. That includes just .01 percent blood alcohol content, according to state law.
If they are driving a car, they can be charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol content is .05 percent or higher.
“Underage drinking is dangerous and binge drinking even more so. Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time can result in alcohol poisoning which can lead to death,” Aguirre added.
“So it’s important that parents talk to their kids and set clear expectations about not drinking. They do listen to you, even if it doesn’t seem like they do.”
You can report underage drinking parties to the Sheriff's Department (858) 565-5200 or call the Crime Stoppers Anonymous Tip Line at (888) 580-8477.