The Role of ‘Parent Party Patrols’ in Controlling Teen Drinking

Concerned parents are teaming with police officers to try to curb underage drinking. Together in cities and towns nationwide, police and parents form what are known as "parent party patrols."

The teams of cops and moms and dads cruise and walk the streets, checking for teenage parties where alcohol might be consumed. The goal is to prevent underage DWI.

WFLD TV in Chicago reported on a suburban parent party patrol in which parents and police formed squads that take a low-key approach to confronting the kids about illegal drinking.

The parents say they know their efforts might serve as a source of embarrassment for their teenagers, but that it's more important to avert tragedies involving drunk teenage drivers.

Can Parent Patrols Backfire?


One teen girl in the WFLD report said she thinks the patrols will not only fail, but encourage even more underage drinking. "I think the more that they pressure kids into not doing it and bother them I think the more they're gonna do and rebel against it," she said.

On the night the TV station tagged along, the parent party patrol found no parties involving underage drinking.

Police officers involved in the effort made it clear that the patrols don't make arrests. Their purpose is simply to curtail illegal drinking.

Social Hosting Laws


Here in New York, complications arise when teenage drinking parties are held in homes. Social hosting laws prevent adults from serving alcohol to minors or allowing minors to drink alcohol on their property.

It's certainly possible for parents to face criminal charges of endangering the welfare of a child (or unlawfully dealing with a child) if they serve alcohol to teenagers or allow or condone underage drinking.

Under 21

Teenagers also face legal problems when they drink alcohol. The state of New York has a "zero tolerance" policy affecting drivers under 21 years old who consume alcohol. A minor with a blood alcohol level from .02 to .07 faces an administrative hearing and possible sanctions. If the BAC is higher, the minor can be charged with DWI (driving while intoxicated), DWAI (driving while ability impaired) or A-DWI (aggravated driving while intoxicated).

The teen passenger of the intoxicated driver can face consequences as well. A person under the age of 21 found with an alcoholic beverage can face prosecution under section 65-c of the alcoholic beverage control law for "unlawful possession of an alcoholic beverage with the intent to consume by persons under the age of twenty-one years."

Harsh DWI Penalties


A first-time New York DWI conviction can mean a fine of up to $2,500, the loss of your driver's license for up to a year, mandated installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, and worst of all, a possible jail term of up to one year.

If you face a DWI charge, or your child does, contact an experienced New York DWI attorney. A DWI lawyer helps protect you and your loved ones from harsh DWI penalties.