Parents Hosting Underage Parties

Parents Run a Risk When Hosting Parties for Teens

Safety, Tips & how-to

The kids are back at school, celebrating football with parties and bonfires. As a parent, you may host a party at your own home, hoping this will keep your own children out of trouble. You may even find your house having been used to host a party — unauthorized — while you were out.

What you may not know is that neglecting to control alcohol consumption by others in your home can get you in trouble with the law. While hosting parties in your own home may sound like a way to keep your kids under control, you may find yourself in trouble if things go awry.

Social Host Liability

If someone drives away from your home under the influence, you could be held liable for their actions –whether you provided alcohol or not. Providing alcohol (intentionally or negligently) to any teen other than your own makes you responsible for anything they may do the rest of the night. Even if you don’t buy alcohol, the guests might bring alcohol or drugs to the party, and you are responsible for monitoring that.

It can be extremely difficult to make sure everyone gets home safely, but not doing so is a huge risk. Should a drunk guest from your party be caught, there will likely be probation, fines, and of course personal and professional consequences; you could even face a six-month license suspension. Under social host liability, you could potentially be held responsible for an accident caused by drinking teens allowed to drive home from your party. You could be forced to pay for some or even all of the damages in such an accident. The negligent act of letting drunk teens drive home from your home is where you could get into trouble, so you may want to consider letting people sober up on your couch.

Protect Your Kids, Protect Yourself

Maybe you thought throwing a party would get your kids on your good side at a time when they’re otherwise pulling away from you. Remember though, that you are still a parent, and teaching your kids responsibility is important. The problem is that some kids are sneaky, and you can still be held legally responsible for underage drinking at your house, regardless of whether the alcohol is sneaked in and you attempted to stop the party when you found out.

Offer sodas or caffeinated drinks to guests — in cans, not punch bowls. Offer food as well to keep stomachs full. Watch for people with flasks, and ask anyone breaking rules to leave your home — with a designated driver. Drive kids home yourself if you must, leaving another responsible adult home to tend to remaining guests.

Your very best protection is to avoid throwing a party altogether, as large parties can quickly run out of control. Consider encouraging smaller get-togethers at your home with a few of your kids’ more intimate friends — the ones you know you can trust.  In these settings it’s easier for you to pop your head in a room once in a while and make sure your kids are okay.