Social Host Laws
SOCIAL HOST LAWS PUT RESPONSIBILITY ON PARENTS
The legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. Period. Before 2002, adults could turn a blind eye to underage drinking as long as they were not providing the alcohol. However, recent changes in social host laws now put increased responsibility on adults to help teens make good decisions regarding alcohol.
As an adult, you are accountable if you:
· serve or provide alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
· allow them (with or without your knowledge or permission) to drink alcohol in your home or on any property you control (including a rented hotel room). This means that if your child hosts a party while you are away and unaware, you could be held responsible for the “disorderly home.”
· knowingly or unknowingly allow underage drinking at your home or on your property, and someone gets hurt -- alcohol poisoning, accident, injury from fleeing police, violence, sexual assault, etc.
Criminal penalties for basic infractions can include a fine up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment for up to a year, and adults are at further risk for a civil suit as well. Minors convicted of providing alcohol to other minors in any situation can face a fine and the loss of their driver’s license for a year.
Parents need to share this information with their children so they understand the consequences parents and teens can face. Underage drinking is not a rite of passage -- it is a problem. It is vital that parents and older siblings take a stand and don’t unwittingly contribute to the problem. And if you know of a party where teens are drinking and cannot reach the homeowners, call the police and alert them. Make your expectations clear, follow through on consequences, and keep our teens safe.
“The parents who host, lose the most.”
Two excellent sources of additional information are:
For more information on B-PEN or for help starting a Parent Network, visit www.B-PEN.org or contact coordinators June Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
Karen Campbell (email@example.com)