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Is It Illegal to Be at a Party With Minors Where Alcohol Is Served?

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Everyone has their own idea of what makes a party good. For some, a party requires music and dancing, some people demand party games, or party hats, and just as many think alcohol is the magic ingredient. But, when minors are going to be present at the party, there may be some legal concerns if alcohol is served.

Generally, there is no law that forbids adults from drinking in front of minors at a party. However, nearly every state prohibits serving, selling, or providing access to alcohol to minors. This holds true at parties and in practically any setting (excepting in limited situations in some states, such as with parental consent). If an adult is at a party where minors are getting intoxicated, or a parent's children are hosting a party where other children are getting intoxicated, there could be legal consequences for the adult.

Adult Presence Around Intoxicated Minors

While this may sound rather creepy in the abstract, consider that a 21 year old is an adult and could have a friend that is a 16 or 17 year old. If an adult is just hanging out with minors that are getting intoxicated, that adult could find themselves getting arrested even if they did not furnish, or serve, any alcohol or drugs to the minors. If a minor gets in trouble and it is discovered that an adult was present with the intoxicated minors, there is strong likelihood that police will question the adult.

A common criminal charge known as contributing to the delinquency of a minor is brought against adults who hang out with minors that are drinking or doing drugs. Depending on the state's application of the law, an adult may not even need to provide alcohol or drugs to be convicted.

Parent and Social Host Liability

Parents and adults can get arrested if they or their children serve alcohol to other children at a party at their home. Even if a parent isn't even home during the party, they can still face criminal charges, as one former beauty queen recently learned.

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