Underage Drinking

Underage Drinking Stats 

Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.

  • In New Mexico

Among the three leading causes of death among youth aged 15-20 – alcohol was involved in:

  • 42% of Motor Vehicle Crashes
  • 46% of Homicides
  • 28% of Suicides
  • In Dona Ann County

45.8% of people aged 18-20 reported drinking within the past 30 days of taking the 2017 New Mexico Community Survey.

Within the past 30 days – 23.6% of these incidents included binge drinking.

What are the health risks?


Brain Effects—Scientists currently are examining just how alcohol affects the developing brain, but it’s a difficult task. Subtle changes in the brain may be difficult to detect but still have a significant impact on long-term thinking and memory skills. Add to this the fact that adolescent brains are still maturing, and the study of alcohol’s effects becomes even more complex. Research has shown that animals fed alcohol during this critical developmental stage continue to show long-lasting impairment from alcohol as they age. It’s simply not known how alcohol will affect the long-term memory and learning skills of people who began drinking heavily as adolescents.
Liver Effects—Elevated liver enzymes, indicating some degree of liver damage, have been found in some adolescents who drink alcohol. Young drinkers who are overweight or obese showed elevated liver enzymes even with only moderate levels of drinking.
Growth and Endocrine Effects—In both males and females, puberty is a period associated with marked hormonal changes, including increases in the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone. These hormones, in turn, increase production of other hormones and growth factors, which are vital for normal organ development. Drinking alcohol during this period of rapid growth and development (i.e., prior to or during puberty) may upset the critical hormonal balance necessary for normal development of organs, muscles, and bones. Studies in animals also show that consuming alcohol during puberty adversely affects the maturation of the reproductive system.

What are the legal consequences?

Minor in Possession (MIP): A violation of liquor Control Act for a minor to buy, receive, attempt to buy, possess or allow themselves to be served  alcoholic beverages. PoA is considered a misdemeanor.

  • A maximum fine of $1000
  • 90 day suspension of license, on 2nd offense & 3rd offenses 2 yr. suspension or until offender reaches 21 years of age (whichever time is greater).
  • Up to 60 hrs. of community service related to reducing incidence of a DWI, depending on prior incidents


Presenting or Making a false ID: Any person who uses or possesses an altered, forged or fictitious driver’s license or permit is guilty of a misdemeanor. Any person who alters or forges a driver’s license,   identification card, or permit or who make a fictitious driver’s license, identification card, or permit is guilty of a forth degree felony.

  • 3-18 months in jail
  • Suspension of license for unlawful or fraudulent use.
  • Probation required when sentence is deferred or suspended.

Open Container:  knowingly drinking any alcoholic beverage or having possession of any  container which has been opened, seal broken, or the contents of the container have been partially removed, while in a motor vehicle or on a public highway. Open container offense is a misdemeanor.

  • A maximum fine of $300
  • 90 days in jail
  • 3 months revoked for 2nd offense, 1 yr. for  subsequent offenses.
  • Probation


while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and who has a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or more  First offense is a misdemeanor.

  • Up to $5000 in fines depending on previous  offenses.
  • Revocation of license for 1 year to permanently,  depending on the number of offenses.
  • Up to 3 yrs. in prison depending on the number  of previous offenses.
  • Mandatory screening, community service, up to 5 yrs. probation, and a vehicle interlock