The legal drinking age in Bridgehampton as well as the rest of the nation is 21. Anyone who drinks that is under that legal age can be charged with underage drinking. However, as a local woman discovered, any adults who contribute to the children consuming alcohol can be charged with a crime as well.
New York State Police recently raided a party in Onondago County following up a tip about juveniles drinking at a private residence. Upon arrival they found several youth between the ages of 14 and 16. The owner of the home, a 55-year-old woman was charged with unlawfully dealing with a child and endangering the welfare of a child. Her court appearance is set for early December. Both charges are Class A misdemeanors.
State police report that underage drinking is a serious problem in Central New York. They go on to state that the adults in juveniles’ lives are sometimes part of the problem. Many officials would like to see communities adopt laws that would charge any adult that helps or even just condones underage drinking. In a recent survey done with local students, 20 percent of seventh graders state they have consumed alcohol within the last year, while 35 percent of 11th graders stated they had drank alcohol in the last month. Of those 11th graders, 94 percent claimed they had parental consent.
One of the reasons underage drinking is frowned upon is because a person’s brain does not fully develop until the early-20s, so drinking can wreak havoc on a developing brain. This could be one reason why the charges for allowing juveniles to drink are so severe. The woman in question, as well as the youths, should seek the advice of a legal professional so a solid defense against the charges can be created.
Source: 9WSYR, “State Police say underage drinking remains a serious issue in CNY” No author given, Nov. 12, 2013