In the state of Texas, it is illegal to drink alcohol if you are under age 21. And as most of us know, underage drinking is a tremendous and very common problem in McCulloch County. Teenagers, through creative means, are able to get their hand on alcohol and when they do, they will generally drink to excess. Why do teenagers drink’ There are many answers to this question and not one teenager drinks for the same reason. Think back to your teenage years and remember just how stressful those years were for you. Teenage life is one of the most stressful periods of life. There are changes going on around the teenager at every turn. They begin to hold more and more responsibilities and we expect quite a bit from them. All this stress, when taken into account with lack of experience, and often a lack of education, can lead to poor decisions. And, teenagers aren’t known to be the best decision-makers in the world and do not always exercise good judgment. Peer pressure is a huge factor in teenagers deciding to drink. Everyone has heard the term peer pressure and many people have heard it so often, they have a tendency to ignore the term. But you never really think much of the term until you are underage and you have a drink thrust into your hand at a party given by your best friend. Sure, you think you can say no. But, have you tried it’ It is hard for teens to reject their peers and it is even harder for teens to take a stand and say ‘no’ for fear that they might stand out as being different. For some teenagers, the sheer fact that drinking is illegal makes them do it. Some teens are influenced by role models through their parents, their friends, or movie or television characters. Some think it makes them more attractive, popular, or funny. Some do it to relieve stress, anxiety, loneliness, rejection, depression, or any other of the strong emotions which often dominate teenage life. And, for some, it’s actually an addiction to alcohol. Alcohol addiction is not instantaneous, it takes time to build up a tolerance, and eventually, a dependence on the drug. However, that time is significantly less for teenagers and children than it is for adults. For teenagers, it can take as little as one to two years to become dependent on alcohol. And once a person is addicted, the alcohol takes over the person and the person loses control. Most teenagers think the only consequences of drinking underage are those imposed upon them by their parents’whether it’s being grounded, losing phone privileges for a few weeks, or having the car taken away for a week or two. But if they only knew what they were facing through the criminal justice system, maybe they would think twice the next time they have a drink in their hand and are about to chug a beer or two. Share with your children what can happen to them when they drink underage and help them see that it is just not worth it. ‘ If a minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectible amount of alcohol in the minor’s system, the possible penalty is $500 for a first offense. For a first offense of driving while intoxicated with a breath or blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, the possible penalty is a $2000 fine and/or 180 days in jail, with a minimum jail term of 6 days. Plus, there will be an automatic suspension of the minor’s driver’s license for 1 year. ‘ A minor who consumes alcohol, a minor who attempts to or purchases alcohol, a minor in possession of alcohol and a minor who misrepresents his or her age subjects him or herself to a possible penalty of $500 for a first offense. ‘ Each one of these crimes carries with it a conviction and for all of these crimes, the penalties get worse with subsequent offenses.