CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Prom season is underway, and graduation is around the corner which can be a dangerous time for underage drinking, and while there is much to celebrate, there are liabilities that both parents and their teens need to be aware of.
Prom and graduation, it’s considered a rite of passage for teenagers; But according to data, with these celebrations, underage drinking increases. AAA reported that nearly 40 percent of teens would likely drink alcohol on prom night.
Each year about 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking, this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes. These startling numbers can put both parents and their teens at a liable risk if they host a prom or graduation party. Under the state’s ‘Social Host Law’ it is against the law to serve or provide alcohol to underage guests or to allow them to drink alcohol in your home or on other property you control.
Parents and their teens could be prosecuted criminally, fined up to $2,000, and/or face up to one year in jail. A parent can also be sued and financially responsible if their child or an underage guest injures another person or themselves after consuming alcohol on their property.
Local lawyer, James B. Winston tells 22News, “That social law extends to any place that you control. Whether it’s a hotel room that you are renting, or even out on a boat, that person that was renting the boat, that has control over the alcohol and the authority to have the guests stop, and didn’t, could be liable.”
A homeowner’s policy may be able to cover the costs of litigation, especially if the underage drinker causes injury or death by the use of a vehicle. Most insurance policies will not cover situations involving criminal conduct, however.
Data show that roughly one-third of alcohol-related teen traffic fatalities happen between April and June.