Well-meaning but underinformed parents hoping to curb post-prom car accident carnage in Massachusetts may once again make a mistake that opens them up to life-altering liability: hosting an after-prom party. On the surface, it seems like the responsible thing to do: Have the kids spend the night at a parent’s house for supervised frivolity, instead of letting them check into a hotel or occupy an empty home. Under the right circumstances, this is a good plan, but it falls apart the second a single drop of alcohol enters the picture.
The Perils of Being a Social Host
A Social Host is defined as a person who supplies liquor to a guest. If you or your child host a party, you are considered a social host who is in control of the premises.
Providing Alcohol Is Illegal
Yes. If you provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, you may be prosecuted criminally. The penalty for violating this law consists of a fine of up to $2,000, imprisonment for up to a year or both.
You Can Be Charged Even If You’re Not Home
If you are not at the home you own or the property you own and your child hosts a party where alcohol is served, both of you can still face criminal charges and may be sued civilly. You may also be financially responsible if your child or an underage guest injures themselves or another person after having consumed alcohol that you supplied, served or made available.
To be found guilty under the Social Host Law, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must prove that a parent or a minor child knowingly or intentionally gave, provided, supplied or allowed minors to possess alcohol at a residence or a property under the parent’s control. Parents and minor children can be sued civilly for damages and injuries resulting from underage drinking.
Underage Drinking and Driving:
The NHTSA reports that teen traffic deaths during prom season weekend are higher than at any other time of the year. Approximately 300 teens die every year in alcohol-related automobile accidents on prom night..
If your child, or a guest who drank alcohol supplied on your property, is involved in an accident that causes injury or death, you are liable. Penalities can include fines and jail sentences as well as damages awarded in a civil court. As a parent, the smartest thing you can do is to make sure that your children come home immediately after prom, and that there are no alcoholic beverages available.
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Sheff Law have extensive experience helping people and families impacted by injuries and accidents resulting from alcohol use. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-423-4477 for a free consultation. There is no obligation and no cost to you unless you are awarded a settlement.
May 18th, 2017 | Posted in Blog