Today Your Legal Corner will discuss ” Underage Drinking…providing alcohol to minors.”
Sometimes, it is important to be reminded of the obvious… alcohol is not permitted to those under the age of 21 and parents who host parties providing alcohol to minors have the most to lose.
Presently, high school graduation season is upon us, where parties will be held throughout the coming summer months. Having had two children who attended high school graduation parties as well as having their own, I am quite familiar with the arguments in support of underage drinking in the home. How many times have we heard, ” I know my son or daughter and their friends are going to drink, so I would rather have them do it at my house where I can at least keep an eye on them.” This thinking is faulty for several reasons.
Penalty for underage drinking
The law in New Jersey is much stricter when it comes to supplying alcohol to minors. Adults face serious consequences for disregarding the law. A parent / social host who serves or makes available alcohol to guests under the age of 21 may face criminal penalties. The penalties for giving alcohol to minors or allowing alcohol to be consumed on your property include fines up to $1000.00 and /or up to 6 months imprisonment.
A civil claim may also hold you financially responsible for injuries sustained by a third party as a result of the actions of a minor who has been illegally served or had alcohol made available to them. Further, you may also be held responsible if the minor who is served alcohol is subsequently killed or injured.
The law could not be clearer…never serve alcohol or make available to a minor under any circumstance. In fact, taking this a step further, practice alcohol prevention when it comes underage drinking, your home and parties.
Prevention tips for underage drinking
When it comes to underage drinking in the home, prevention is key. To begin with, always be home when your child has a party or friends over and let your child know that drinking is not ok and why. Blame it on the law if you need to. Underage drinking is less likely under the careful supervisions of a parent.
Next, check to make sure alcohol is not brought into your home by other teens, noting any bags or backpacks. Lastly, especially during parties keep alcoholic beverages on a separate table or an area away from the non-alcoholic drinks. Guide and supervise as a responsible parent.
Inform parents of underage drinking
Still, even with vigilant prevention, underage drinking may still happen. Should it happen in your home, contact the teen’s parents immediately. Avoid making that secret deal based on a promise from the teen that they will never do this again.
Look at it this way, as a parent if this was your child wouldn’t you want to know? So as we commence this summer’s graduation season…sometimes it helps to be reminded of the obvious…it is illegal to serve or purchase alcohol for minors!
Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss “Summer Months … children left home alone.”
Victoria M. Dalton is an attorney with the law firm of Hoffman DiMuzio.
For questions, contact Victoria at [email protected].
Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice.