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If you don't think you're responsible for underage drinking in your home, think again. Social host laws impose liability for drunk teens. In many jurisdictions, you're required to supervise any minors in your care. That includes ensuring that they don't engage in illegal behavior.
Liability doesn't end here. If you knowingly furnish teens with alcohol, or should have known they were drinking while under your care, you may be arrested.
Just ask Bill Burnett, a Stanford professor, and his wife Cynthia. While hosting a party for 40 high school students in Menlo Park, Calif., cops noticed that some teens were under the influence. They charged Burnett with 44 counts of contributing to a minor's delinquency.
You can also ask Anthony and Claire Reyes, a New York couple facing 43 counts of unlawfully dealing with children. They're accused of throwing a party for their teenage son and allowing him and his friends to drink.
Burnett says he did everything he could to ensure there was no underage drinking in his home, according to MSNBC. He even peeked in a few times and brought the teens cookies. Prosecutors still didn't think he did enough to supervise the teens, and have chosen to hold him responsible for underage drinking.
Unfortunately, these laws force parents to make tough choices. If you know your teens are going to drink, it's often better to have them and their friends do it in the safety of your home. But at the same time, there's legal liability for drunk teens.
It's ultimately your decision to make - is being held responsible for underage drinking worth the risk? Or is it less risky to let your kid go to someone else's party?
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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