New York Underage Drinking Statistics

Underage drinking in New York is a major problem, with as many as 847,000 underage customers drinking in the state every single year. In fact, in a 2009 study of New York students in grades 9-12, the results indicated that:

  • 71.1 percent of teens surveyed had consumed at least one alcoholic drink during their lifetime.
  • 21 percent of teens surveyed had said they had their first alcoholic beverage (more than just a few sips or a taste) prior to age 13.
  • 41.4 percent of teens had consumed at least one drink of alcohol in the 30 days prior to taking the survey.
  • 23.8 percent of teens had engaged in binge drinking (consuming five or more drinks of alcohol in a row) in the 30 days prior to taking the survey.
  • 5.1 percent of teens had consumed at least one drink of alcohol while on school property in the prior 30 days.

These data indicate how widespread underage drinking is among younger teens in New York. When underage college students are factored in, it is likely that even more drinking is occurring, often in settings such as parties where binge drinking is common.

The problem of underage drinking is so pervasive that estimates indicate 18.4 percent of all alcohol sold in New York was consumed by people who were under 21. When comparing the percentage of alcohol consumed by underage people across all 50 states, New York ranks No. 15 (with No. 1 being the highest percentage).

Minors are not only likely to drink, but they are also more likely to be heavier drinkers than adults. While those over 21 consume 1.4 drinks per day on average, underage drinkers consume 4.1 drinks daily.

The Costs of Underage Drinking in New York

The widespread use of alcohol among children and teens is not without consequence. In fact, in 2010, underage drinking cost citizens of New York a shocking $3.3 billion. These costs included:

  • $463 million in medical costs.
  • $867 million in lost-work costs.
  • $1.956 million in pain and suffering costs.

This equates to a cost to New York citizens of $2.58 for every one drink consumed by someone who is underage. The majority of the costs result from youth violence, which cost $2 billion, and youth traffic crashes, which cost $290.5 million. Other expenses included the costs of high-risk sex, youth property crime, youth injury, poisoning, psychoses, fetal alcohol syndrome and youth alcohol treatment.

How Dangerous is Underage Drinking?

When young people consume alcohol, they put themselves and others at risk of serious harm. Kids who begin drinking before age 15 are around four times as likely to develop alcohol dependence as compared to those who start after their 21st birthday. They are also 2 ½ times more likely to abuse alcohol than those who start drinking later in life.

In addition to possible problems with addiction, teens can cause direct and immediate physical harm while intoxicated. For example:

  • In 2009, there were 47 traffic fatalities and 1,914 injuries in car accidents caused by underage drinking.
  • During the same year, 47,100 non-fatal violent crimes, 77,400 property crimes and 94 homicides were attributed to underage drinking.
  • 14 deaths due to burning, drowning or suicide were caused by underage drinking.

This is a tragic loss of hundreds of lives, with many more individuals and families experiencing shattered health and shattered dreams as a result of underage teens choosing to drink when they shouldn’t.

What to Do If You or a Loved One Was Hurt

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident caused by a teen driver or suffered injury or death as a result of negligent or intentional wrongdoing by an intoxicated teen, you have certain legal rights. It may be possible for you to take action to recover monetary compensation for losses.

While teens typically have few assets of their own, they are often covered by car insurance in the event that they cause a car accident. Victims of drunk driving crashes can be compensated through a car accident claim that results in the teen’s insurer paying out damages. Depending on the circumstances, a parent’s homeowner’s insurance policy may also cover costs and losses associated with teen alcohol injuries in the home. In some cases, parents may be held directly responsible for injuries under social host laws if they provide alcohol to minors or allow consumption of alcohol in their homes, or under negligence laws if they failed to provide adequate supervision and their actions put others at risk.


  • Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center – Underage Drinking in New York: The Facts
  • New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services – Underage Drinking
  • Fact Sheet
  • Century Council — 2011 Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatality Data: New York
Author: David Resnick

Founder of David Resnick & Associates, P.C., a New York personal injury law firm in charge of providing exceptional and personal service to each of our clients in various areas including car accidents, slip and fall, wrongful death, construction accidents, and premises liability. David Resnick founded the firm in 1998 after working in large law firms where he saw a need for greater client communication and more personal care.

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