House Parties and Social Host Laws

As the parents of a college-aged teenager, there are no shortage of things to worry about, especially if your child is living at school during the school year. We have discussed things related to your child’s health and well-being as well as what you should look for if your son or daughter takes a car with them to college.

When your kid is home for a holiday or an extended break, you may breathe easier having them under your roof, but with them home, there is another thing you have to watch out for. While school is out, there are going to be house parties somewhere. If there is a party, there is the possibility of alcohol being available and then you have a situation where there will be under-age drinking.

Over the last several years, the numbers of teenage driver accidents have been on the decline as well as the number of alcohol related accidents in minors, but it is still an issue to look out for.

Over the last several years, new laws have emerged to make homeowners legally responsible for underage drinking taking place in their homes. In 2007, Suffolk County and Nassau County’s enacted laws making it illegal for anyone over 18 to allow minors to drink alcohol in their homes. This liability could extend to the owner of a home, an older child, a relative or even a babysitter.

Social Host laws do not require any harm to a third party. The mere serving of alcohol is a violation, regardless if the minor is intoxicated or not.

What action can you take to prevent underage drinking in your home? Education is key. Reinforcement of the lessons taught in school are critical. Informing teens of the consequences of their actions is important. These consequences could include arrest, serious injury, loss of jobs & loss of educational opportunities. Parents who are responsible and careful when they drink will be good role models for their children. Being present during a party is key and exercising actual supervision is critical. Limiting access to liquor and preventing liquor from entering your home is important. If underage drinking is discovered, immediate steps to end the drinking/party is usually mandated by the Social Host laws. It isn’t enough to set a “no alcohol” rule, then leave or go to another area of the house and not monitor the party, there must be active supervision.

The plus side of having the party at your house is that you can monitor it and make sure the rules are being followed regarding drinking. If there is a party at someone else’s place, then talk to your son or daughter. Education is the key to keeping them safe.


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