Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Parents who allow drinking could face arrest

Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2016

By Kelly Sickafoose

Permissive parents who allow underage drinking in their homes could face arrest and prosecution under the Social Host Law. It is a Class B misdemeanor to provide alcohol to a minor. Now, under the Social Host Law, it is also a Class B misdemeanor to provide a place for minors to drink, including the adult’s house, and any property they own, rent or control, including a hotel. Penalties could include a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail. With a prior conviction, the penalties increase to up to a $5,000 fine and one year in jail. If serious bodily injury or death results, the penalty increases to six months to 2½ years in jail, and up to a $10,000 fine. Civil liabilities can be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

There are serious negative consequences for both parents and teens when parents choose to provide alcohol to teens. Unfortunately, many parents subscribe to common myths and misperceptions related to underage drinking:

Myth: Kids are going to drink anyway – they should do it at home where they can be monitored and kept safe.

Fact: Parents who allow their children to drink at home are condoning underage drinking and actually encouraging kids to drink outside the home significantly more than if they weren’t allowed to drink at home. Allowing your children to drink at home will not ensure that they will drink responsibly or that there will not be consequences. Your children will still be subjected to the same risks and consequences of underage drinking as if they were outside the home, including alcohol poisoning, injuries, assault and violence and alcohol dependence and addiction.

Myth: Underage drinking is a rite of passage and no big deal – I drank when I was underage and I turned out fine.

Fact: Alcohol use today is much different than it was even a decade ago. There are new methods of consumption and new products available. Young people today frequently engage in high risk or binge drinking and often set out to get drunk, which can damage young adult brains that are not fully formed. Youth may choose to drink in large quantities for several reasons, including anxiety and depression, genetics, and social environments. Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 90 percent of all Americans currently diagnosed with a drug addiction began using alcohol, tobacco, or other illicit substances as teens.

The intent of the Social Host Law is to protect minors and the larger community. The penalty may be a deterrent, but the real reason to forbid our underage kids from drinking is that it’s damaging to their health. Also, thousands of people in the United States are injured or killed each year due to alcohol- related crashes involving teenage drivers. The alcohol provided to an underage drinker so they can “have fun” could end up contributing to someone being injured or killed.

For more information, please visit us on Facebook at Local Anti-Drug Coalition Efforts - LACE.