Last week, I read the tragic story of a 15-year-old Californian who died after falling from a third floor hotel balcony. The young man was visiting Berlin as part of a school tour, and was under the influence of alcohol at the time of his death. According to authorities, the youth had consumed a large amount of whisky and had been celebrating with his classmates.

In Germany, minors are allowed to consume and possess beer and wine at 14, as long as they are in the company of their parents or legal guardian. At 16, minors can consume and possess beer and wine without parental consent, and at 18, they have access to any distilled liquor.

Unlike the USA, Europeans aren’t puritanical when it comes to alcohol consumption. Most people learn at an early age how to drink responsibly. This young man’s death is not uncommon, especially among young tourists visiting Berlin from the USA and Scandinavia where alcohol prohibitions are tough. When an inexperienced young person comes to Berlin, it’s like a license to binge.