New York County Aggressively Enforces Underage Drinking Laws

Police in Westchester County, N.Y., are taking a tougher approach to teen drinking by arresting parents and youths at parties where underage drinking occurs, the New York Times reported June 1.

“When we get a call about a party, technically it’s a crime, so we investigate it as a crime,” said Detective John Hynes, a youth officer for the Pelham Police Department. “From the very beginning to the end, we will try to make an arrest. It’s not like in the old days, where you just chased everybody home.”

In Westchester, where underage-drinking parties have increased despite tougher enforcement, the zero-tolerance laws are being met with resistance from some parents, who complain that police are too aggressive.

“The biggest frustration is that many people in the adult community, people who are parents, in some cases leaders, do not have the same view that underage drinking is a problem,” said Lt. Anthony Masi of the Yorktown Police Department.

Since police can only arrest minors if they have a drink in hand, some police departments, such as Greenburgh’s in central Westchester, have officers observe through windows before entering a home.

In most cases, authorities prosecute the provider of the alcohol, as well as the minor. The provider could be a parent, older sibling, or friend.

“I’ve charged parents before and convicted them, and we will continue to do so,” said Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro.