FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 21, 2005 

CONTACT:  KIM JOHNSON  
OFFICE OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE
207-287-6344

PRESS RELEASE
TOUGHER YOUTH DRINKING LAW TAKES EFFECT

AUGUSTA, ME – a new Maine law effective this week takes a tougher stand with anyone who furnishes alcohol to young people.  Beginning September 17, the minimum fine for providing a place for minors to drink became $1,000.

Kimberly Johnson, director of the Maine Health and Human Services’ Office of Substance Abuse, said results from the 2004 Maine Youth Drug and Alcohol Use Survey (MYDAUS) show that most of Maine’s high school seniors have tried alcohol and half report that they drink regularly.

“This law supports parents and communities that set effective boundaries for reduction of underage drinking and its many risks,” Johnson said.  “We know that alcohol consumption by minors is a major factor in sexual assault, suicide, homicide and all kinds of accidents.  National research and our prevention program evaluations in Maine show that limiting access is part of an effective strategy to reduce the underage drinking problem.”

The law, enacted by the 122nd Legislature and signed by Governor John Baldacci, increases penalties for people who furnish, sell, or deliver liquor to minors.   It also puts emphasis on the seriousness of allowing teen drinking parties to occur in a home. The sole exception is that minors are allowed to consume alcohol (in reasonable amounts) in a private home in the presence of their own parent. In addition to the $1,000 fine, the law specifies that the fine cannot be suspended if the violation involves one or more minors under age 18.

            “District attorneys around the state have also begun to more aggressively prosecute alcohol furnishing offenses, with many making it standard practice to request 48 hours jail time in addition to fines,” said Johnson.

            “Many parents are working hard to set clear boundaries and help their own children remain alcohol-free,” said Johnson.  “It is simply not acceptable for parents or community members to undermine these efforts by illegally providing alcohol or a place for youth to drink.  We need a consistent community effort to protect our young people from the damage associated with drinking at a young age.”

            Other new laws designed to help prevent underage drinking also include a requirement that stores selling alcohol display a poster reminding consumers that it is illegal to provide alcohol to minors, and a requirement that clerks card anyone attempting to purchase alcohol who looks under 27.

For more information about underage drinking, visit www.maineosa.org