Providing alcohol to minors may have serious consequences.
Now that Halloween has passed, we are officially in the midst of the holiday season. Over the next few months, there will be many parties, which also means there will be a lot of alcohol consumed. However, while you may be picturing the scenario of a boozy holiday party spent with friends and family of legal age to drink, the reality is that this time of year also provides the setting for a different potential issue. It can be tempting to allow an underaged family member to indulge in the festivities with a glass of wine or even host a party of his or her own where alcohol is involved. After all, you may be thinking it is better for him or her to drink at home under your supervision than out in public. Right?
Providing alcohol to minors is actually a very bad idea, mainly because Florida has strict laws regarding social host liability when minors are involved, but also because teen drinking and driving can have tragic results for which no one wants the burden of responsibility.
What is Florida Social Host Law Regarding Minors?
Here in Florida, laws for social host permit criminal liability if you allow underaged minors (under the age of 21) to drink, sell alcohol to them, or otherwise provide them with alcohol. While you should understand that simply serving alcohol to minors is a crime, you should also understand that you can also incur civil liability if a minor to whom you have provided alcohol leaves your house and is involved in an accident that causes injuries. You can actually be liable for the injuries of the minor and any other damages that result from the accident.
Why is the Law So Strict?
Even if you think your underaged loved one would never drink and drive, we all know that young people can be impulsive and often think they are invincible; unpredictability is heightened with alcohol use. Unfortunately, statistics indicate that alcohol and teenagers can be a dangerous combination that can lead to especially perilous results when those teens get behind the wheel. According to the Centers for Disease Control, teen drivers are already three times more likely than more experienced drivers to be in a fatal crash, and drinking alcohol in any amount significantly increases this risk.
Young drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are actually 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% (the legal limit for adults aged 21 and over) than when they have not been drinking. Additionally, in 2010, one in five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had some alcohol in their system; many had higher than the legal limit for adults.
These grim statistics are especially tragic because they involve a behavior that is totally preventable. No one wants to be involved in yet another tragedy. Think again before providing an underaged loved one with alcohol.
You can Depend on Experienced Legal Counsel
At the AP Law Group, with locations in Ocala and Gainesville, we have seen many scenarios in which social host liability comes into play. We are available to help if you or someone you know has been injured due to someone else’s alcohol consumption or is facing criminal charges related to a party involving underaged drinking. Because we have decades of combined legal experience in both criminal defense and personal injury law, we have the skills you need to resolve whatever you’re facing. Start by contacting our office today so we can discuss your situation and advise you on your best course going forward.