Should You Allow Your Teenagers and their Friends to Drink “Safely” in Your Home? Part 1

Posted by Geoffrey E. SpoffordDec 13, 20130 Comments

by Geoffrey E. Spofford

As we approach the holiday season, the irresponsible use of alcohol, both by adults and underage drinkers, rises sharply. There are parents of teenagers who believe that it is acceptable and in some ways safer, for them to allow their teenagers to host house parties, at which alcohol is made available to the guests, assuming that their children and their friends will seek alcohol elsewhere. Sometimes the parents take the keys away from all guests arriving at the party. They assume that if they can prevent the teenagers to whom they serve alcohol from leaving in a car, all will be well. This article discusses, in brief, the criminal liability that such parents face by making these decisions. Part II will cover civil liability.

It is illegal for anyone under twenty-one to purchase or possess alcohol. It is illegal to procure or provide alcohol to anyone under twenty-one - with the exception of your children or grandchildren. Parents who provide or furnish alcohol to underage drinkers may be charged with the crime of furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors. If charged, such parents will find themselves facing up to one year in jail or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. The police may, and do, bring criminal complaints against parents for "contributing to the delinquency of a child." In this scenario, the parents may find themselves side-by-side with their children in the Juvenile Court as co-defendants facing incarceration of up to a year and a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

If you have any questions about this article, or other legal issues facing you, please contact the Worcester MA Law firm of Lian, Zarrow. We will be happy to assist you.