5 Easy Ways Minors Get Alcohol

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There are five common ways minors get alcohol. They’re all easy. And, they’re all illegal.

Underage drinking tends to go up during summer break. This is why County of San Diego officials are urging parents to monitor their children’s activities to curb underage drinking and avoid potential tragedies.

“Teens and young people have more free time during their summer break and that could get them into trouble. It’s important for parents to stay involved in their children’s lives and communicate openly about the dangers of alcohol and it has to be a continuing conversation,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, County Board of Supervisors. “Underage drinking is not a rite of passage. It’s important to let our children be who they want to be, but always know where they are and what they’re doing. Underage drinking is a completely preventable behavior.”

According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, last year, 9 percent of 8th graders, 24 percent of 10th grade students and 37 percent of 12th graders had drank alcohol in the 30-day period prior to the survey. Locally, the 2013 California Healthy Kids Survey shows that 26 percent of San Diego County 11th graders used alcohol in the 30 days prior to the survey. While this is a decrease from 33 percent in 2011, it is still too high. 

RELATED:  5 Penalties You Face for Giving Alcohol to Minors

So how do minors get alcohol? These are the five most common ways:

Parents, Older Siblings or Friends
Surprised? Don’t be. Teens say this is an easy way to get alcohol. They get it from friends or family members at parties, or by taking it without permission from home liquor cabinets.  Almost 72 percent of teens who drink get alcohol without having to pay for it.

Shoulder Tapping

Underage drinkers who pay for alcohol usually give money to someone else to buy it. Minors will hang out in the parking lot and ask a stranger to purchase alcohol for them.

Fake IDs

High school and college students sometimes use a fake ID to buy alcohol.

Failure to Check IDs

Minors sometimes get alcohol from store clerks who fail to check their ID or are willing to sell it to them even though they are minors.

They Steal It

Minors and their friends have reported stealing the alcohol or doing “beer runs” at a local store. This works because some stores place alcohol near the door or have “blind spots” that are not readily observable by store employees.  Minors sometimes also know some stores have policies that prevent employees from running after them.

“Giving alcohol to a minor can lead to criminal penalties or, worse, the loss of a loved one,” said Supervisor Greg Cox. “The younger a person starts to drink, the more likely they are to develop an alcohol or drug problem later in life.” 

Minors are not allowed to buy alcohol, period. Whenever minors drink, one question must be asked: ‘Who provided the alcohol?’

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact