By Robert Romano, Esq.
I’m hearing this more and more lately….
Some parents with older teenagers feel that if their kid(s) want to throw a “bash” with alcohol, they would prefer to have them drinking at their own home with their friends, rather than have them party elsewhere. I have had parents say many times to me words akin to ‘kids will be kids’ and ‘they are going to drink no matter what we do, so better they do it under our roof,’ in effect they feel their approach is allowing the lesser of two evils to take place.
We need to do everything in our power to not allow either of those scenarios to take place. By keeping channels of communication open, and explaining the real consequences of underage drinking to teens, they are more likely to act responsibly. They need to fully understand that drinking alcohol anywhere under the age of 21 in New York State is not just dangerous, but illegal, and not allowed…not even “a little bit.” I’m not totally naive. While this approach may be limited in its effectiveness, hopefully, it will have some impact.
One thing I would never do is to intentionally allow underage drinking to take place in my home. New York State happens to have some of the strictest social host and dram shop statutes in the country. These laws expose homeowners (and commercial establishments) to almost boundless liabilities in the event someone is injured or killed as a result of alcohol being served in their premises.
Without minimizing the human tragedies that all too often result from underage drinking, the financial exposure to the homeowner/host can be catastrophic as well. It’s sad that I even have to say this, but if the risk of a loss of life is not enough to make you think twice about hosting a party with underage drinking, perhaps the risk of the loss of your house, cars, and future income will.
Robert Romano, Esq., is an attorney based in Armonk whose practice focuses on restaurant/liquor license law. Having also represented clients in local courts in matters ranging from traffic infractions to misdemeanor charges, he has firsthand experience in dealing with teenage legal matters. Visit www.ArmonkLaw.com.