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           22 May, 2022

Category:  Press » Legal


Young Adults Encountering Underage Drinking at Parties, Says New FindLaw.com Survey

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2008-12-30 06:28:06     

The holiday party season is in full swing, reaching its biggest celebration on New Year's Eve. Those who host parties need to be aware of state and local laws that may hold them liable for underage drinking. More than one in four young adults say they have attended at least one party in the last year where minors were served alcohol, according to a new survey by FindLaw.com ( http://www.findlaw.com ), the most popular legal information Web site.

According to the FindLaw survey, 28 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 encountered underage party drinking in the last year. Several different laws can apply when this occurs:

-- All states and the District of Columbia have laws that prohibit the serving of alcohol to minors. However, many states have exceptions that allow parents to provide alcohol to their minor children or wards. Some states also have exceptions for religious services, medical treatment and educational purposes.

-- Under social host liability laws, adults who serve or provide alcohol to a person under the age of 21 can be held criminally liable if that minor is killed or injured, or kills or injures another person.

-- In addition, many states and municipalities have teen party ordinances that make it illegal to host a party where underage youth are drinking. Under these laws, adults do not need to serve or provide alcohol in order to break the law. If alcohol is present at the party, adults who host the party can be arrested if they allow a drinking party when minors are present to occur with their knowledge.

"People who host parties and social gatherings -- whether during the holidays or any time of year -- need to be aware of their responsibilities," said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor at FindLaw.com. "All servers, be they friends or hired help, should be advised and take precautions to avoid serving alcohol to minors. Hosts should be aware of who is attending the party, and if necessary, ask for identification to avoid any mistakes."

"In addition to underage drinking, what are known as 'dram shop laws' hold hosts responsible for property damage, injuries or death resulting from alcohol being served to people who are clearly intoxicated. Parties and other festive events are often part of the holiday season, but people should exercise caution and sound judgement to protect their guests and others."

The FindLaw survey was conducted using a demographically balanced telephone survey of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percent.

Additional free information on social host laws can be found at FindLaw.com ( http://www.findlaw.com ).

Note to editors: Full survey results are available upon request.

Specialized in: Encountering Underage Drinking - Parties
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