The Century Council is dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking through education and promoting responsible decision making.
Our public policy department is responsible for researching current drunk driving and underage drinking prevention countermeasures and developing policy initiatives for the organization. Our policy initiatives are implemented at the state and federal levels and are also made available as resources to the general public. Over the years, we have worked alongside coalition partners in more than 30 states to pass effective legislation to reduce drunk driving and underage drinking. Additionally, we have worked to improve Federal laws to prevent drunk driving and underage drinking.
Our public policy department also works to involve elected officials across the country in programmatic efforts to stop drunk driving and underage drinking. Over the years, more than 500 elected officials have teamed up with us to launch our prevention programs in elementary, middle, and high schools with more than 2,200 events across the country. Read more about our program partners.
Despite significant progress over the past 20 years, underage drinking is a complex problem that persists in communities across the nation.
There are numerous countermeasures that can be implemented to address this issue. A combination of effective penalties such as license suspension and comprehensive enforcement, coupled with public education efforts will enhance each community’s efforts to reduce underage drinking. While each community may choose its own path in fighting this problem, the effectiveness of their efforts will increase when built on a foundation of community awareness, commitment to addressing the root causes of the problem, effective enforcement and adjudication of existing laws, and the resolve necessary to see initiatives through to their successful conclusions.
Working to restrict access to alcohol by those under the legal purchase age is everyone's goal, but to achieve success, the battle must be fought on many fronts. Parents and other adults must be held accountable, individuals under the legal purchase age must understand that the consequences of underage drinking could be life threatening, licensed retailers must be committed to responsible service, and law enforcement and public officials, alike, must focus their resources and manpower in a balanced and comprehensive approach.
The Century Council believes that a combination of effective penalties and comprehensive education coupled with public education efforts about the crucial role of parents will enhance each community's efforts to reduce underage drinking.
Today, we focus our state and federal agendas on restricting youth access to alcohol and preventing adults from furnishing alcohol to people under the minimum drinking age. At the state level, we support the following legislative initiatives and elements of a comprehensive approach to underage drinking prevention:
For adults who provide alcohol to people under 21 years of age, we support license suspension penalties, mandatory community service, mandatory fines dedicated to underage drinking prevention, and graduated penalties for repeat offenses. All too often, enforcement of these laws is inconsistent. Punishment for this crime should be swift and certain. The penalties must be effective and enforceable.
We support the passage of social host liability laws that prohibit adults from providing and/or serving alcohol to people under 21.
For people under 21 years of age, we support the following penalties:
- Penalties such as mandatory fines, community service and license suspension for possession, consumption, purchase and attempts to purchase alcohol by people under the minimum drinking age
- Zero tolerance laws for people under 21
- Penalties for underage persons who use, manufacture and/or possess fraudulent identification for the purpose of procuring alcohol
- Graduated penalties for repeat offenses
We support public education efforts regarding the consequences of underage drinking and the role of parents in preventing the problem. Many of our programs including Ask. Listen. Learn. and Girl Talk provide guidance for parents. Additionally, we support enforcement of the 21 year old drinking age law through initiatives such as Cops in Shops® that encourage responsible retailing by licensed establishments.
At the Federal level, we are working to improve national underage drinking laws by expanding and improving school-based efforts to prevent underage drinking, Federal evaluation and data collection efforts, and enforcement efforts aimed at preventing adults from providing alcohol to people under 21.
For more information on our underage drinking policy efforts, please contact our Government Relations department.