With the warmer weather upon us, social gatherings and get-togethers are common. Frequently, we must handle UNDER-AGE DRINKING PARTIES.  Every police officer I know has had to deal with this problem.

While it is allowable for a parent to give THEIR child an adult beverage, a parent cannot give someone else’s child the same beverage.



Generally we are “tipped off” by a neighbor providing the details of when and where a party is taking place.  Usually, the teens commence to drinking and then they get loud and start shouting with even louder music.

If they would keep quiet, we probably wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what was going on!  But, because they are goofy teenagers, the drinking inevitably leads shouting, whooping-it-up and other loud noises.

Another a “dead give-away” is the huge number of cars in the vicinity. We find them parked in the driveway, on the front lawn, in the neighbor’s yard, and ANYWHERE the youngsters see a spot to abandon their vehicles in order to join the festivities.


The wide scattering of cars is another alert to the neighbors which results in a call to the police.

A third “red flag”, comes when we learn that the parents of the hosting teen are away for a few days.



I can remember a mother calling the station. She asked if we could periodically come by her residence while she and her husband were away. She went on to ask us to check to see if her son was behaving. The implication, of course, was for us to confirm there were NO under-age drinking parties in progress.

I thought this was a rather unusual request. My response was, “So, you want us to raise your son for you?”  The parents were going to Europe for two weeks.

I presumed her request was to give the parents ‘peace of mind’ while they were away.  She didn’t appreciate my remark and asked to speak to the Chief of Police.

His response was much the same as mine. He added that we do not perform such monitoring of residents.  If we did, the liability would be incredible because we would be assuming responsibility for the people we agreed to monitor.



When parties do materialize they are loud … REALLY LOUD.  There is usually lots of activity with scores of vehicles parked everywhere on the property and streets nearby.

In one instance, which comes to mind, I approached the front door with two other officers (State Troopers) in close rank behind me.  I rang the front door bell. The teenagers who lived at the residence answered the door.

There were three young people behind him, each one holding a can of beer. I asked the three behind him, “How old are you?”  Their answers, “14, 16, and 19.”

Without hesitation, the Troopers and I proceeded to enter the residence. The teenage party host boldly demanded, “YOU CAN’T COME IN HERE!  YOU NEED A WARRANT!”  I then asked him, “Are you in law school?”  It got no response from the teen, but the Troopers were laughing.

I explained to the youngster that a crime had been committed (UNDERAGE DRINKING) and therefore, I had the obligation and authority to enter.

Someone the yelled, “COPS!!” at the top of their lungs with a great sense of urgency.  Amazingly, the party goers started fleeing, using any exit they could find:  windows, garage, rear door and the basement.

There was even one fellow who tried to run right past the Troopers and me.  I grabbed him by the arm saying “Are you on the track team, or something?” I sat him down, demanding that he not move.

I called my chief, apologizing for it being 2:30 A.M., to ask how he wanted me to handle this situation. I was told to take all of the teens to headquarters and call their parents to come get them.  Needless to say, their parents were not thrilled with this early morning collection. All the teens were given appearance tickets and released.

I was sorry that I had to awaken all of the parents at that hour. Getting dressed and coming to the police station was not something any parent wants to do.

However, I believe that we may have prevented the tragedy of a horrible crash caused by impaired driving when those inebriated teenagers drove home from the party. Crashes involving drunk drivers may just damage some cars … or they may end young lives.

 At the end of the day, it’s all about saving just ONE life.



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