Providing Alcohol in One's Home

New York laws prohibit purchasing, aiding and abetting or giving alcohol to minors (anyone under 21). An exception is made for parents who may provide alcohol to their own underage children, but irresponsible provision can be considered reckless endangerment.

Some parents provide alcohol to teenagers at parties because they think it's a safer option than having youth drink and drive. Drunk driving is, indeed, one of the most dangerous risks that youth can take, but it's not the only one. Other health risks of youthful drinking include addiction, alcohol poisoning, date rape, and injury from falling or fighting.

Parents may be held responsible if someone, as a result of alcohol or other drug use on their property,

- gets into a fight and hurts someone

- falls and hurts themselves or someone else

- is sexually assaulted

- damages property

- becomes seriously ill or dies from drinking too much

- injures or kills someone while driving after leaving the party

What if you don't know about it? Suppose your own teenager provides the alcohol and you are unaware of it; perhaps you are even out of town. Then your child can be held responsible, and there are cases in which minors were prosecuted for injuries or damages that occurred.

Parents are similarly responsible if underage drinking parties take place in some other location in which they have some control, such as limousines or hotel rooms that they have rented for their children’s use.

And this advice to parents comes from a teenager, “Stopping parties does not stop drug use. Find out why your child would feel the need to gain happiness from a pill or bottle first -blame the parties last.”

See “When the Party's at Your House” for tips on hosting an alcohol-free party.