Social Hosting: Underage Minors

Many teenagers and other underage minors choose to consume
alcohol. Some parents mistakenly believe that providing a “safe place” for
their teenager and his or her friends to drink is better than letting them
drink elsewhere. When you allow your teen to drink under your roof you become a
social host. Things
can quickly get out of control when alcohol is being consumed; someone may get
injured on the premises or drive away and injure themselves or someone else in
a drunken car accident and you could be held liable.

Most underage drinkers get their alcohol from social sources
such as parents, siblings, and friends at parties and other social gatherings.
Some states and local communities including Washington have taken steps to hold
liable those people who provide or serve alcohol to minors or allow drinking on
their property.

Social Hosting
Defined

While commercial entities like bars are ruled by a “duty of
care” to the people consuming the establishment’s alcoholic beverages, social
host liability laws instead place responsibility on the “social” host”, such as
homeowners throwing a house party. Many states have particular laws for
drinking that involves underage minors.

Underage Social Hosting
Laws in Washington State

RCW 66.44.270 : “It is unlawful for any person to sell,
give, or otherwise supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one
years or permit any person under that age to consume liquor on his or her
premises or on any premises under his or her control.”

The penalties for breaking this law include a fine of up to
$5,000 and one year in jail. Social hosts also owe a “duty of reasonable care”
to a minor who consumes alcohol supplied by them on or off their premises. Essentially,
a host may be held liable if the minor is injured or injures property or someone
else in any way. Note that in Washington, a social host is not liable for permitting
a minor to consume alcohol on the host’s premises, if the alcohol was not
provided by the host.

Despite this protection in the law, it is still risky to
allow teens to drink at your home as their behavior may become erratic and
unpredictable including:

?? Risky sexual behavior,

?? sexual assaults,

?? alcohol poisoning, and/or

?? physical altercations.

Steps to Help Prevent
Underage Drinking

?? Express your views to your teen that they should
avoid underage drinking.

?? Do not allow underage drinking in your home.

?? Never supply alcohol to anyone under the age of
21.

?? Tell your adult children not to provide alcohol
to their underage siblings.

?? Be at home when your teenager has a party and
check in on it periodically to check for alcohol.

?? If you are leaving your teenager overnight, have
a friend or relative check in on them or better yet, send them to stay
somewhere that there will be supervision.

?? Talk to the parents of your teenager’s friends
and make sure that they are not providing alcohol to your underage child.

?? Ensure that there is adult supervision where
your teenager spends the night.

?? Provide fun alcohol-free activities for your
teenager that can include their friends.

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have
enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident
attorney
fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not
uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten
times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in
Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing
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since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we
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When you allow your teen to drink under your roof you become a
rel=”nofollow” >social host. Things
can quickly get out of control when alcohol is being consumed; someone may get
injured on the premises or drive away and injure themselves or someone else in
a drunken car accident and you could be held liable.

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Michael John Tario

Licensed since 1980

Member at firm Tario & Associates, P.S.

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