The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe alcohol as the most abused or used drug among youth here in Georgia and the country as a whole. Their data shows that alcohol intoxication claims some 4,300 underaged individuals here each year. Those same statistics show that individuals age 12 to 20 are responsible for consuming at least 11% of all alcoholic beverages in this country. Underage drinking doesn't just carry with it the risk of bodily injury but affects individuals in many other ways as well.
If you're younger than the legal drinking age of 21 and you're spending your college years away from home here in Athens, then it's very likely that your parents warned you to steer clear of alcohol when they dropped you off at school your freshmen year. Your parents probably did this for a good reason. They're probably aware of some of Georgia's Underage Possession of Alcohol laws.
Underage drinking is a problem in Georgia, as it is with many states in the country. The Peach State has a few exceptions to the prohibition of alcohol for people below the age of 21, such as tasting a beer under parental supervision, but serving or selling it to minors is a violation for both the seller and the buyer.
It's never a good idea to drink alcohol before the age of 21. Other than a few exceptions under Georgia law, such as drinking under parental supervision, minors are forbidden from intoxication for their own protection. Beyond legal issues, there are safety concerns for developing brains and people not yet used to controlling their level of intoxication.
When it comes to underage drinking in Georgia, there are hard lines around who can drink, and there are few exceptions to those rules. Children may be allowed to drink small amounts of alcohol in their own homes under parental supervision, but even this case is very rare and tightly regulated.
Beer, wine and liquor are a big part of life in Georgia, from weekend barbecues to relaxing in local bars. As in most of the country, the Peach State restricts alcohol possession to adults age 21 or older. Younger people can find themselves in legal trouble if they are discovered in possession of any alcoholic beverage.
College is the place that many people try things for the first time. Many graduates wax nostalgic about first road trips, first dates and first work successes while living or studying on campus. Although it is not part of a healthy college experience, alcohol can be part of a lot of firsts. For some students, alcohol is involved in their first experiences with the criminal justice system.
Drinking should always be moderated, which is why people under the age of 21 are not allowed to consume alcohol in the United States. There are a few exceptions in Georgia, including consumption under a parent's supervision, a rule partially designed to allow children to experience the disorientation caused by drinking in a controlled environment.
Even in the case of cough medicines, parents have to wait a while before introducing their children to alcohol. The chemical in beer, wine and liquor has an outsized effect on young people and can have negative effects on young brains well after initial consumption. But there are limits to the generally understood prohibition of drinking alcohol as a minor.
Much like other states, Georgia restricts underage drinking by setting a minimum age for the purchase or consumption of alcohol. There are very limited situations in which a person below the age of 21 may legally drink, such as under the supervision of parents or guardians, but minors are enjoined from drinking under most circumstances in Georgia.