Underage drinking laws have been around for ages to help states combat teenagers drinking before they become 21. Now some states are adding another tool to their belt to help combat underage drinking. A number of states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, have recently added laws called “social host” laws that allow states to impose penalties against parents and their teenagers for hosting parties at their houses where underage drinking is allowed. Whereas the underage drinking laws only carry civil penalties, some states are using the “social host” laws to impose criminal penalties as well.
While the “social host” laws that states have carry different levels of liability for the hosts, more states are discussing and debating their laws to see if stricter liabilities should be imposed. States believe that parents who are liable for simply hosting the parties will be stricter and pay more attention to what the children are doing at the parties. The stricter liabilities will also help the police in states where they have to show who provided the alcohol in order to impose penalties.
Illinois currently does have a “social host’ law, but the law does not impose liability on parents and teenagers for simply hosting the party. The Illinois social host liability only extends to people who engage in an act and therefore assume a duty of responsibility. For example, if parents allow their children to have a party and engage in the act of telling the other children to not drink or to stop drinking, then the parents will have a duty of responsibility to ensure the children get home safely and will be liable for any harms that result from the party.
As the number of underage teens drinking and problems arising from underage teens drinking increases, states need to discuss options to help them continue to combat the problem.
If your children receive an underage drinking ticket contact the Bloomington, Illinois lawyers at the Finegan Law Firm.