Public Order and Morality
In criminal law, crimes against morality and public order are those that are contrary to acceptable societal norms, values, and customs. “These crimes also known as victimless vices, consensual crimes, or crimes without victims interfere with the normal functioning of society” (Kendall, 2011, p.74). These crimes are main themes of the law because in several ways the intention of the law is to maintain minimum standards of civility and decency. These crimes are in two main categories of sex-related offences and substance- related crimes. This paper focuses on liquor law violations, which are underage drinking as a crime against public order and morality. It analyses the importance of law enforcement on the crime, the arguments for and against the use of police and court resources on the crime and an opinion on whether to prosecute the criminals.
Law enforcement on underage drinking
Underage drinking refers to drinking of liquor by anyone under the age of 21 years in any amount or form. Underage drinking is a crime that faces various charges depending on the state. Problems associated with underage drinking vary from school, social, legal problems, unwanted and unprotected sexual activity, abuse of other drugs, and homicide. Reduction of these problems requires an effort from the community to monitor behavior and reduce access of alcohol to the youth. Law enforcement policies will go a long way in combating the crime because majority youth will fear prosecution.
Law enforcement policies should focus on underage drinking because it affects the members of society. Underage drinking comes at a cost ranging from health consequences to unruly behavior in the society. “According to statistics, approximately 5,000 youth in the U.S. under the age of 21 die each year from the consequences of underage drinking” (Bonnie & O’Connel, 2004, p. 43). These consequences range from suicides, drunken driving, and crashes. The state and local authorities should take the onus to enforce laws regarding underage drinking to avert the situation.
Underage drinking often affects academic performance of students. Poor performance means that these teenagers may not afford better lifestyles in future. However, if the state enforces laws regarding liquor violations it is possible to save the situation. Law enforcement should encompass purchase of alcohol, possession, consumption, and misrepresentation. Underage drinkers that violate these laws should be prosecuted to save the next generation.
Arguments for and against use of police and court resources
The police and courts have a role to play in minimizing the rates of underage drinking. The courts and police are law enforcement agencies and thus they must use their resources to deal with underage drinking as crime against public order. The benefit of using the police is that they will make it easier to crack down underage drinkers. Police are able to seize alcohol by using their authority even when the underage drinker does not have an intention to drink. In addition, police officers can order children under the drinking to leave public places and confiscate licenses from bartenders. Underage drinkers are very unruly and most of these youth hardly listen to their parents or the community. Therefore, if the police use their resources on underage drinking, they will make a big step in reducing the crime. Police have vested authority and their efforts are likely to yield benefits to these crimes. On the other hand, courts will assist in prosecuting the criminals behind underage drinking. “Criminal courts and juvenile courts assist in bringing order because once an underage criminal receives punishment; he or she is not likely to repeat the crime” (Main, 2009, p.1).
There are shortcomings for using police and court resources on underage drinking. Sometimes the police officers are too rough while dealing with underage drinkers because most view them as unruly children. The police can create an increased resistance to combating the crime on the youth. Instead of using the police, community-based programs could help because they monitor behavior and train the youth on dangers of underage drinking. The courts can jeopardize the efforts to reduce underage drinking if they engage in taking bribes from the criminals (Main, 2009). Court officials often collide with liquor sellers and end up taking bribes hence reducing efficiency of dealing with crime. Given such a scenario, it is only fair not to use police and court resources on underage drinking. The community can introduce programs to deal with the situation.
In my opinion, anyone found violating liquor laws on underage drinking should be prosecuted. The prosecution should include sellers of alcohol to underage drinkers and the drinkers below the age of 21. Prosecution of parents should only be for those that supply alcohol to their children and allow them to take it in their presence. Not all parents can face the law because most instill moral values to their children, which they expect the teenagers to follow. Besides, a parent cannot always be around to monitor the behavior of his or her children because of work and most teenagers spend their time in school. Underage drinking is dangerous and it causes adverse consequences to both the drinker and the society. Being a crime against morality and public order, underage drinking could wipe out the next generation if criminals are not prosecuted. Therefore, it is crucial that law enforcement agencies intervene and prosecute criminals to save the situation.
Crimes violating public order and morality affect the normal functioning of society. Underage drinking is such a crime, which law enforcement agencies should focus on. The police and courts can use their resources to reduce the impact of underage drinking because they have vested authority. However, courts and police officials can endanger the efforts if they collide with the criminals and take bribes. Overall, underage drinking is a crime that should be prosecuted under the law.
Bonnie, R.J. & O’Connel, M.E. (Eds.), (2004). Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective
Responsibility. Washington DC: National Academies Press. Pp. 13-232
Main, C.T. (2009). Underage drinking and the drinking age. Policy Review, 155, 33-46. Retrieved on 29th September, 2011. Available at:
Kendall, D. (2011). Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. Ohio: Cengage Learning. Pp. 4-134