Underage Drinking

While underage drinking has always been a problem, it has become more prevalent in recent years. More and more children and teens are drinking alcohol, and they are starting younger than ever. Almost 12% of New Hampshire youths took their first drink before their 12th birthday. More than 50% took their first drink before they turned 17.

Early drinking can affect growth and brain development. The younger kids are when they start drinking, the harder it is for them to quit. Be the adult, and talk to your kids about choosing the right path to avoid underage drinking.

The Stats

New Hampshire teens face a lot of social pressures, so the temptation to go down the wrong path with alcohol is strong. We need to work together to change the statistics and teach our children to make the best choices.

Every day in the United States, more than 4,750 kids under age 16 have their first full drink of alcohol. Underage drinking increases the risk of changes in the developing brains of young people. It is also a risk factor for abuse of alcohol later in life, which can lead to additional medical problems. Young people who start drinking before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who began drinking at or after age 21.

To lead teens down the right path, they need to know that their parents care. Some helpful resources are here to help assist you in making sure your child is on that path


Percentage of 12-20 year olds in NH who report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days, compared to 25% nationally.


Percentage of New Hampshire youths who reported taking their first drink by age 12 or younger.


12-20 year olds in NH reported they had more than 5 drinks in the last month, ranking our state as 2nd highest.


Percentage of NH teens think their parents would strongly disapprove of them having one or two drinks per day.


Reports of underage drinking in the United States,which were highest in the Northeast.

The Penalties

Think that underage drinking is cool? Think again. Drinking alcohol before age 21 can not only be dangerous at the time, but research has shown that the earlier drinking and drug use begins, the more likely it is for the user to experience addiction problems later on. No one wants to be an addict when they grow up, so it is important to establish healthy habits early.

The social pressure around underage drinking is a constant issue, but know that there are ways to avoid being part of the statistic. The smart decision isn’t always easy, but the state of New Hampshire is here to help kids stay on the right path to make responsible choices.

Penalties for teen drinking at a glance:

  • A NH Minor is considered intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration of .02%. A violation of this results in a fine of at least $300.
  • Any violation of New Hampshire Underage Alcohol laws is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2000 and a year in jail.