Several juveniles ended 2023 illegally drinking alcoholic beverages, and some of them required medical attention as a result, police said last Tuesday.

In light of the incidents, the police warned the public not to provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 16.

“The Family and Juvenile Unit of the Royal Virgin Island Police Force is urging the public — especially business owners of bars, restaurants, supermarkets and hotels — and family members who might be organisers of events and within the household to be mindful not to serve alcoholic beverages to under-age children or to allow them access to places where alcohol is being served,” a police statement warned.

Prohibited by laws

Serving minors is prohibited by more than one law, according to police.

Chapter 106 of the Liquor Licence Ordinance, for instance, prohibits businesses from selling alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 16, police said.

Additionally, section 204 of the Criminal Code states that serving minors can meet the legal definition of illegal cruelty to children.

That law states, “A person, having attained the age of 18 years, who gives, or causes to be given, or sells or causes to be sold to a child under the age of 16 years, any intoxicating liquor, except upon the order of a duly qualified medical practitioner, or in case of sickness, apprehended sickness, or other urgent cause, shall be deemed to have ill-treated that child in a manner likely to cause injury to the child’s health.”

‘Moral duty’

Police added that enforcing age restrictions on alcohol sales is “not just a legal requirement but a moral duty.”

“By adhering to these regulations, we collectively contribute to the wellbeing of our youth and the overall safety of our community,” the release stated.