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Parent responsibility for teen drinking parties

One of the leading causes of fatal car accident is drunk driving. While about 30,000 people die every year in motor vehicle accidents, about one-third of those deaths are alcohol related. And a portion of those death involve teen or underage drivers. While most states prohibit the consumption of alcohol by minors, it sadly occurs in significant numbers.

No one is safe attempting to drive while intoxicated, and young drivers are at an even greater risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident, being new to both driving and drinking. Since minors are typically prohibited from purchasing alcoholic beverages, someone else who is not a minor, furnishes the alcohol.

Too often, it is the parents of a teen who is holding a party, who provide the alcohol. They sometimes believe they have no choice, and that if they don’t allow the teens to drink at their home, they will go somewhere else.

In Pennsylvania, the statutes prohibit the furnishing of alcohol to any person less than 21 years old. However, for there to be social host liability, the parents would have to “knowingly furnish” the alcohol. Pennsylvania also allows those who knowingly furnish alcohol to minors to be fined for each violation.

A study from California found that almost 40 percent of teens surveyed held parties with alcohol and 94 percent of parents knew or probably knew their the kids were drinking. If those results occurred in Pennsylvania, the 70 percent who knew could potentially face fines and liability for injuries resulting from the partygoers driving off intoxicated.

Parent should never participate by encouraging illegal behavior with their children, especially when it relates to alcohol. No parent wants to be responsible for the death of a minor or innocent motorist from a alcohol related motor vehicle accident.

NPR.com, “To Stop Teen Drinking Parties, Fine The Parents,” Patti Neighmond, December 15, 2014

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