Prom season is here and reports of underage drinking have been making headlines. But the bigger story is when parents supply alcohol to young drinkers.
If caught, the parents might only face a local liquor violation – usually a small fine. But the cost could be much greater if someone gets hurt.
Under the Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act, the law in Illinois law since 2004, if you supply alcohol or drugs to someone underage and the intoxicated person injures or kills someone, you can be sued. This liability also covers property damaged by the impaired individual.
And turning a blind eye is not the solution. Even if you do not supply the alcohol, you can be liable for simply permitting the underage drinking in your home. If you knew or could’ve known about underage drinking on your property or property you control, such as a rented hotel room, you can be held accountable.
The same rule applies for upcoming graduation parties. If you have a backyard celebration with a keg for your guests over 21, it is imperative that you make sure underage guests are not drinking too.
Unfortunately, parents make the mistake of allowing their underage children to drink far too often. They say it is safer for the kids to drink at the home under their watchful eyes. But teens leave parties, drive, go to other parties, and easily escape their parent’s gaze. More than half of teen drinkers get alcohol from someone over the age of 21, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. That includes 26 percent who get it from a parent or other family member.
Don’t be the parent who acts like a “friend.” Don’t be the aunt or uncle who is not “strict.” Don’t be the “cool” older sibling. It’s not worth the life of the teens or your own livelihood, bank account or home!
As a former president of the MADD DuPage County chapter, I’ve seen enough underage drinking tragedy to warn parents against these parties. Sometimes people complain that they didn’t know what they were doing was illegal. But, as a parent, what kind of example are you setting? Think about it.