“Social host liability” laws and serving alcohol to minors

CNN just had an article entitled Officials crack down on booze-serving parents. The article profiled the story of a 16-year-old star football player who was killed in a car accident and police believe he was driving under the influence. They also believe that the teenager had been served alcohol by one of his pal’s mothers. If the mother, Kecia Evangela Whitfield, age 43, is convicted she could be required to serve a year in prison as well as pay thousands of dollars in fines.

Increasingly, states are creating “social host liability” laws and imposing heavy penalties on adults who serve alcohol to minors even in their own home. There are a lot of parents who believe that if they allow teenager to drink at home, that it will be safer for the teenagers. Some parents have a belief that if the drinking is done at home then they control binge drinking, and problems associated with it like rape, sexual assault and alcohol poisoning. This belief is becoming a trend in some areas.

In all states, it is legal to give your child alcohol. It is, however, illegal to give another person’s child alcohol.

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Social Host Liability

In 24 states, legislatures have enacted laws which hold adults who serve or provide alcohol to a minor to be held criminally liable if the minor is killed or injured or kills or injures another person. This law is similar to dram shop laws for businesses.

With dram shop liability, if a person is injured or killed by a drunk driver, then the restaurant, bar or social club that served the obviously intoxicated person can be found negligent as well.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, or a loved one been killed by a drunken driver, you should contact the law offices of Herbert G. Farber. We are a personal injury firm with offices in Bellevue and Seattle and we have considerable experience in representing victims of drunken drivers. We will aggressively pursue your claim. We represent victims on a contingency fee basis meaning you pay nothing unless we recover a settlement for you.

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