Underage Drinking In Greenwich Spikes In Summer

GREENWICH, Conn. – With graduation parties and summer in full swing, underage drinking becomes more noticeable, according to the Greenwich Police Department.

“There’s an uptick because they’re outside more often,” Sgt. Mark Zuccerella said of the Special Victims Section of the police department. “Underage drinking is always there, but in the warm weather it’s more blatant.”

Teens typically get alcohol from their homes, Zuccerella says. Some parents may believe their children will drink anyway so they believe it is better to let them drink at home where they can be supervised, according to the Health Alliance on Alcohol.   

“We hear, ‘My friend had it,’ and then when we delve deeper we find they got it from home,” said Zuccerella. “I’ve talked informally with people over the phone who generally don’t want their kids drinking at all but ask what would happen if their kids did drink.”

It’s a $136 fine in Connecticut for violating the statutory drinking age, but that’s only one charge. If a parent or another adult is charged with impairing the morals of children, it’s a felony. “God forbid they get in a car. I have gotten calls asking, ‘What if I take their keys?’ If anyone is found out, they will be charged accordingly,” said Zuccerella. 

In the past five years, about three parents have been charged in underage drinking in town, Zuccerella says. “Many parents halt it and say they stopped the party, even if they didn’t call the police,” he said. However, this low statistic does not mean parents do not procure, provide or allow alcohol consumption in their homes.

If injury or damage happens while alcohol is being provided to a minor, the adult can be held accountable, according to the Health Alliance on Alcohol. Further, if injury or death results from alcohol use, the adult who served the minor can be held liable.

Zuccerella says the department sees a spike in all forms of juvenile delinquency from April to June and again from September to the beginning of October.

“We don’t need to look at the stats to know there are particular times when alcohol consumption goes up – holidays, in particular, and vacations,” says Lt. Kraig Gray, spokesman for the Greenwich Police Department.

Underage drinking has been reported on Greenwich beaches, Zuccerella says. “People see it happening and they call. People need to call when they see it because we can’t be everywhere.”

Officers are working to prevent drunken driving, particularly among those who are underage. The Connecticut Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving honored Police Officers James Ruszkowski and Robert Smurlo for their commitment to eliminating drunken driving in Greenwich.

“Quite often alcohol is part of celebrations for a lot of people, and sometimes bad decisions are made, with parental assistance or not,” said Gray. “There are other ways to have a good time without alcohol.”

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