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Parties and Bars

Now that you’re 18 and legally an adult, get familiar with the laws in your state.

Man at Bar

Alcohol is ingrained in American culture. It is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth and is responsible for 4,700 deaths annually in underage youths. By senior year of high school, 70 percent of students have tried alcohol. The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years. If you are under 21, you should not be drinking at all. However, most youth gain access to alcohol through parents, older siblings, and shop owners who are noncompliant with the law.1

If you’re younger than 21 years and are found in possession of alcohol, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail. If you’re over 21 and choose to drink, you need to be safe and responsible. Keep these tips in mind.

Don’t drink and drive.
If you plan to drink, have a designated driver, call for a taxi, or arrange for someone else to pick you up.
Be prepared before you go out.
Double-check that you have everything you’ll need for a night out, such as your driver’s license, cash, and keys to your apartment. Be sure your cell phone is fully charged.
Make a back-up plan.
Talk with your friends about the expectations for the night. If you’re going to a house party, discuss what type of crowd might be attending and what your plan will be if something goes wrong, like a fight breaking out or the party getting out of control.
Don’t leave a party or bar alone.
Arrange a buddy system with a friend before you go out, and make sure he or she doesn’t leave without you or vice versa.
Look out for your friends.
If one of your friends looks like he or she has had too much to drink, offer some assistance and make sure the friend gets home safely.
Research the venue.
It’s important to know a little about the nightclub or bar that you will be visiting. Find out if there have been any recent incidents at the venue or in its surrounding area that may make you change your mind about attending.
Be familiar with the area.
Know where the nearest form of public transportation is and how to get there. Ask people who have visited the area before and get their advice.

1 Centers for Disease and Control Prevention. Alcohol and Other Drug Use. Atlanta, GA, 2012. Available:

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