Different countries – different rules. In Europe, young people aged 16 and over are legally allowed to buy beer, wine and sparkling wine; high-percentage alcoholic beverages are taboo until they reach the age of 18. Americans are generally prohibited from drinking alcohol until they are 21 years of age. On the other hand, they may decide to join the military at the age of 18; in some states, the kids receive their driving license at the age of 15.
However, strict legislation in the USA has not eliminated risky or excessive alcohol consumption by young people. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 28.2 percent of Americans between the ages of 10 and 20 consumed alcoholic beverages at least once a week – only slightly different from 12- to 17-year-old teenagers in Germany, of whom around 27 percent drank as regularly in 2011 according to the federal government’s drug and addiction report.
In the United States, however, binge drinking plays a much greater role: 23 percent of Americans between the ages of 12 and 20 consumed more than five alcoholic beverages at least once a month in one evening in 2011. In Germany, on the other hand, only 15 percent of young people between the ages of twelve and 17 tended to drink excessively.
Fake IDs as a “social duty”
Alcohol consumption by young people in the USA is closely linked to the so-called college culture, and fake IDs as an integral part of it. Alcohol in larger quantities including “coma booze” is often part of the “good tone” there. The young people can obtain alcoholic beverages in various ways. Informal college parties in student dormitories, for which adult students get the “booze”, are the “traditional” variant, which plays a role for many students almost every day. If you are under 21 and want to visit bars, clubs or restaurants in the evening, you can get fake identity documents on the Internet instead.
The US-American student Olivia McMiller (19) described fake ID cards as a “social duty”. Forged identity documents that make drinking possible come at a price of 50 to 200 US dollars from China, and young Americans are generally unaware they are committing a crime when ordering and using them. Nevertheless, the prospective lawyer did not think that the USA should relax its youth protection laws; binge drinking as part of the college culture would only be supported. Although laws and prohibitions create a framework, they have only limited effect without sustainable prevention work through target group-oriented information and education.