Help SADD Prevent Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is when anyone under the minimum legal drinking age of 21 drinks alcohol and remains a risk that attracts many developing adolescents and teens. When young people try alcohol, they often don’t realize the damaging effects that drinking can have on their own lives, families, and communities. Underage drinking is a widespread public health problem that poses many risks.
Of course, another very serious reason not to drink is that possession and purchase of alcohol by anyone under age 21 is now illegal in every state. States made underage drinking illegal for good reason.
  • Alcohol use can lead to a criminal record in several ways. The actions teens take under the influence of alcohol are more likely to lead to criminal conduct.
  • A slight altercation can turn into a brawl with physical harm or property damage, a romantic evening can turn into a rape or a charge of rape, and a car crash can cause injury or death.
  • Legal consequences can include fines, restitution, victim payments, community service, probation, and incarceration.
  • Getting caught buying or possessing alcohol can have serious lifelong negative consequences because it is a violation of the law.
  • An arrest, prosecution, or conviction for attempted purchase or possession of alcohol will be expensive and embarrassing, will disappoint family and friends, perhaps permanently altering their opinion of a young person’s character and will send a dangerous message to younger children, and may lead to suspension or expulsion from a job, a team, or a school.
  • In many cases, alcohol has ruined a young person’s plans and dreams for life.


What We Are Doing About It: SADD chapters have access to an array of underage drinking prevention programs that include activities that engage and educate the school, the community and parents.  Some SADD students serve in an advisory capacity with other national groups working to reduce the instances of underage drinking.

Underage Drinking Statistics
  • During the past month (30 days), 26.4% of underage persons (ages 12-20) used alcohol, and binge drinking among the same age group was 17.4%. [SAMHSA]
  • Alcohol use remains extremely widespread among today's teenagers. Nearly three quarters of students (72%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, and more than a third (37%) have done so by eighth grade. [NIDA]
  • Past-month alcohol use rates declined between 2002 and 2008 for those ages 12-13 (4.3% to 3.4%), 14 or 15 (16.6% to 13.1%), 16 or 17 (32.6% to 26.2%), and 18-20 (51.0% to 48.7%). [SAMHSA]
  • Among race demographics, whites had the highest percentage of underage (ages 12-20) past-month alcohol use (30.4%). Asians had the lowest rate at 16.1%. [SAMHSA]
  • In 2008, 56.2% of current underage drinkers (ages 12-20) reported that their last use of alcohol occurred in someone else's home; 29.6% reported that it occurred in their own home. [SAMHSA]
  • Among underage drinkers (ages 12-20), 30.8% paid for the alcohol the last time they drank - including 8.3% who purchased the alcohol themselves and 22.3% who gave money to someone else to purchase it. Among those who did not pay for the alcohol they drank, 37.4% got it from an unrelated person of legal drinking age; 21.1% received it from a parent, guardian, or other adult family member. [SAMHSA]