Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories



Minnesota – December 15, 2002



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The OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative supports cooperation between community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned citizens to change local ordinances and enforcement practices.


Putting the ZAP on College Drinking

An innovative coalition in Minnesota has begun cracking down on underage

drinking among college students. Called the Zero Adult Providers (ZAP) Coalition, the group shifts the focus

of underage drinking enforcement from minors to those who provide them with alcohol. 

St. Paul and Minneapolis?the Twin Cities?are home to many small, private colleges. Students at these colleges

tend to live off-campus, and house parties were common. Weekend nights in these cities saw police responding to

numerous complaints about noise, property destruction, or rowdiness associated with the house parties. The usual

response was to break up the party and send everyone home. Occasionally, a minor would be cited for possession of

alcohol, but more often the beverage was poured out on the scene. 

Worse, minors caught with alcohol were often unwilling to identify its source. Most students preferred to mail in

the $60 fine, rather than finger a peer or classmate. Police efforts to track down the source of the alcohol were

repeatedly stymied by the lack of an effective penalty. Of course, the problem of underage drinking only got more out of hand. 

In 1999, the Minnesota Join Together Coalition used EUDL funds to start the ZAP Coalitions program to address underage

drinking and house parties. The goal of ZAP is ?zero adult providers?; that is, targeting the hosts who supply the alcohol,

instead of the minors. This began with the detailing of a police officer to party patrol, so that complaints could be investigated more thoroughly. 

Publicity is also a key part of the program, with fliers, posters, ads, and other materials distributed across the Twin Cities. The publicity served two purposes: first, to educate would-be partiers about the laws and rules governing underage drinking; and second, to give notice of increased enforcement activities. On the latter point, ZAP received significant support from local judges and prosecutors, who revised bench policy to require that minors appear in court for possession fines. The added hassle and expense of a court appearance proved to be a serious incentive for minors to cooperate with police, and adult providers faced even more serious charges. 

The effort kicked off during fall of 2000 during the University of Minnesota Home-coming season. In a short time, hundreds of arrests were made, and many adult providers were charged with serious violations. The program generated even more publicity through media coverage, and students began to take notice.

Today, the program is a success; parties in the Twin Cities are fewer and farther between. Word is out on campus, and students know that underage drinking incurs serious consequences in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area. Says Sheila Nesbit of Minnesota Join Together: ?Students are talking about this.? 


more information,

contact Jeff Nachbar of Minnesota Join Together at 763-427-5310 or

[email protected] .


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