So you think your son or daughter are old enough to drink at 18 since you were. Think again! According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, more and more states are cracking down on hosts who allow underage drinking on their property.
Here are some examples that show how much trouble YOU could be in if you allow underage kids to drink – whether knowingly or not. In Massachusetts, a mother went to jail this past May for allowing teenage drinking at home. In Rhode Island, a former school board member and cheerleading coach is now on trial for permitting her daughter to host a post-homecoming party where teens drank beer. The 18-year-old son of Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee got in trouble for hosting a party he held in May. Eighteen-year-old Caleb Chafee was sentenced to community service after pleading no contest to hosting a drinking party.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, more and more states are cracking down on hosts who allow underage drinking on their property. These laws can impose either criminal or civil penalties, no matter who brought the alcohol or whether anyone was hurt or not. As of January, 28 states have adopted these types of laws. Other states have imposed laws that only penalize hosts only if someone is harmed because of underage drinking. Many counties are currently debating their own ordinances. Depending on the state and county, laws could range anywhere from fines to actual jail time.
A handful of other states, including California, have passed more circumscribed laws imposing penalties on hosts if someone is harmed by underage drinking. And many cities and counties—from Cobb County, Ga., to El Paso, Texas—are passing or debating their own ordinances. Law enforcement officials say house parties are where many teenagers obtain alcohol. Studies show that these parties are where teens will rapidly overindulge in alcohol, which is also known as "binge drinking."
Critics of these laws say that it's virtually impossible for a host to keep track of who is doing what at these parties. Teens will be teens, and no matter how hard the adult host may lay down the law, they're going to find a way. Conversely, many organizations such as the influential Mothers Against Drunk Driving are huge backers of these laws, saying they send a message to parents who believe as long as their kids are drinking at home rather than elsewhere, they're keeping them safe.
This is an interesting topic for discussion. Where do you draw the line between the rights of property owners and the dangers to teens? Just how involved should government be in our private lives? In my opinion, your best bet is to limit guests at these parties, or host them at a venue where there's no way they have access to alcohol. Better safe than sorry.