Like it or not, some people drink alcohol before reaching the legal drinking age of 21. According to MonitoringTheFuture.org, in 2013, 52 percent of 10th graders reported that they had previously consumed alcohol.
What is more, many of these same minors choose to drive after having one or more drinks. Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people every year, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. If anyone under 21 drinks at your house, whether you let them or not, you could be held liable if that person drinks and drives.
Serving Alcohol to Minors Could Cost You
Regardless of whether or not you physically serve alcohol to minors, you can be responsible if you supplied it. For example, if you went away for the weekend and your unsupervised child had a party with alcohol, you could be responsible if a teen at the party drinks and drives. You do not need to have actual knowledge of drinking to be liable; if you leave unsecured alcohol in your home with unattended minors who injure themselves or drive intoxicated, you can still be liable.
Civil liability is a serious concern. For example, if an intoxicated teen was in a car accident totaling thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, you may have to pay for those damages if the teen drank alcohol they found at your house. You may also face criminal penalties, such as fines and jail time.
Protect Yourself and Others – Secure Your Alcohol
Drunk driving is extremely dangerous and can take your teen’s or someone else’s life. If you have alcohol in your home, make sure to keep it away from minors. Here are a few tips to keep alcohol away from teens.
- Make sure it is stored in a location that is out of teens’ reach.
- Keep your alcohol in a cabinet under lock and key.
- Put alcohol in a safe.
- Stay home when your teenager has a party.
- Make sure your teen’s friends do not bring alcohol into your home. If a teen shows up with alcohol or under the influence, call the teen’s parents. If you are unable to contact the parents, do not let the teen leave. You could potentially be liable if you let him leave under the influence.
- If you go out of town, have a responsible adult stay with your children or have your children stay with them. If this is not possible and you are worried that your teen may have a party, ask local officers to stop by and check on your teen while you are gone. Let your teen know this.