Statistics Show Teen Drinking is Down; Social Hosts Have Legal Obligation to Keep it That Way

Share Article

The latest teen drinking statistics released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse disclose that among teens in this country alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking is down, with a slight decrease in drug use. While these figures are encouraging, attorney Victor Rotolo reminds social hosts of the importance of their obligations, especially during this holiday season.

Picture of Victor Rotolo

Attorney Victor Rotolo

Anyone who hosts a party in New Jersey where alcohol will be served should understand that the State’s social host laws essentially regulate two things: teen drinking and serving alcohol to guests who are visibly inebriated.

Teen drinking statistics show that fewer American teens are consuming alcohol according to the "2014 Monitoring the Future" survey released this month by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The survey of eighth, tenth and twelfth graders conducted annually also indicates a decrease in tobacco use and a slight decline in the use of drugs among this age group. Although these numbers are encouraging, the survey also found that the perceptions among this age group about the harmfulness of certain drugs have deteriorated.

“The deterioration of teen perceptions in regards to the harmfulness of drugs indicates efforts must continue to educate our youth continuously about the use of drugs," stated attorney Victor Rotolo of The Rotolo Law Firm of Lebanon, NJ.

The survey, which was performed by University of Michigan researchers with funding from NIDA, a division of the National Institutes of Health, found that in the past five years, alcohol use among eighth grade students declined by about one-third to 9%, while use among tenth grade students declined to about 23.5% from 30% and for twelfth grade students to about 37% from 44%. Binge drinking among high school seniors has also shown a decline to a rate of about 20%, down from the 30% rate of the late 1990s. Still, one in every five high school seniors engages in this activity, according to the survey.

Although there are certain exceptions, including religious and medical reasons, the minimum drinking age in the United States is considered to be 21. In addition to laws regulating the purchase and public possession of alcohol by persons younger than 21, there are also laws regulating the distribution of alcohol to minors. Dram shop laws pertain to commercial alcohol vendors, including restaurants, bars and packaged goods stores, and prohibit the sale of alcohol to minors and visibly intoxicated persons. (These laws were so named because of the establishments in England that sold gin by the "dram," or spoonful, in the 18th century.) Social host laws, on the other hand, pertain to individuals who offer or serve alcohol to minors or allow property one owns, leases of manages to be used specifically for the consumption of alcohol by minors.

“It is particularly important during this time when people are celebrating the holidays to be aware of what is and is not allowed under the law,” Mr. Rotolo stated.

According to a recent survey by Allstate Insurance Company, about 83% of Americans are planning to host a party this holiday season; of those, 54% will hold the event at home.

“Anyone who hosts a party in New Jersey where alcohol will be served should understand the State’s social host laws essentially address two things: teen drinking and serving alcohol to guests who are visibly inebriated,” Mr. Rotolo explained.

Under New Jersey’s social host laws, anyone who serves alcohol to a minor or makes it available to them in any fashion can be charged criminally. Likewise, a person who serves alcohol to an "of age" guest who is visibly intoxicated or shows signs of diminished judgment and/or physical coordination, can also be charged criminally. In addition, hosts could be held liable for injuries that occur as the result of excessive drinking by any guest.

“Hosts can be held accountable not only under State law, but also under ordinances of individual municipalities where the festivities take place, thus possibly incurring additional fines and penalties,” states Rotolo.

Victor Rotolo has more than 30 years of trial experience in civil and criminal matters, specializing in personal injury, family law and criminal defense. For more information on Mr. Rotolo and The Rotolo Law Firm, visit
Source: Website Article, "Use of Alcohol, Cigarettes, Number of Illicit Drugs Declines Among U.S. Teens," University of Michigan News, December 16, 2014.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Patricia Birchenough
since: 07/2011
Follow >
Victor Rotolo Law Firm
since: 01/2013
Like >
The Rotolo Law Firm

Follow us on