Enforcement Of The Minimum Drinking

Although drinking among youth is now significantly down from its peak in 1980, when questioned, 54 percent of high school seniors still reported drinking in the last month, and 30 percent reported having had five or more drinks at a time at least once in the previous two weeks (Figures 1 and 2; data from Johnston, O'Malley, & Bachman, 1991). Among the many reasons that youth continue to drink, one important reason is that alcohol remains easily available to them, despite the minimum drinking age law. A recent study by Wagenaar and associates (1993b) indicated that only two of every one thousand episodes of underage drinking resulted in an arrest of the youth involved. More important, only five of every hundred thousand episodes of drinking by underage youth resulted in any action being taken against a store, restaurant, or bar for selling or serving alco hol to a minor. Because the chance of getting caught was so low, half or more of all alcohol outlets tested sold alcohol to youth without requesting any age identification (Preusser & Williams, 1991; Forster et al., 1993).

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