Articles Tagged with “Massachusetts Social Host Law”

DW-250.jpgDuring prom and graduation season, students should be enjoying their friends and last days of high school. But this time can turn painful if you or your teenager allow underage drinking in your home.

Breakstone, White & Gluck cares about the safety of teenagers on the road and offers these tips and reminders about the Massachusetts Social Host Law, M.G.L. c. 138, § 34.

“Very few parents realize just how much is at stake when they allow underage drinking in their home,” said Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck. “You may have to live with the painful knowledge that you contributed to a car accident which caused serious injury or death. Plus, you may have to serve jail time and could even lose your home to a lawsuit.”

It is prom and graduation season, an important time for parents to speak to their teenagers about the dangers of drinking and driving. While the priority is on our children’s safety, parents also need to understand social host liability in Massachusetts if underage drinkers consume alcohol in their home.

It is well known that anyone under 21 who drinks alcohol in Massachusetts can be charged criminally, as can anyone who furnishes alcohol to a person under 21. But many people do not know that under the state’s social host responsibility law , there are serious consequences for parents who allow teens and their friends to consume alcohol in their homes. Parents may face imprisonment and fines under the law as well as civil penalties.

“The most important reason to follow this law is the safety of our children and other travelers on the road,” said Boston personal injury attorney Marc L. Breakstone, who has experience handling Massachusetts social host liability cases. “Even if the parents are not home and not aware of the illegal consumption of alcohol in their homes, they can still be criminally and civilly liable under this law.”

Click here to read more about the Massachusetts social host responsibility law from the Boston, Massachsuetts premises liability lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck.
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The Massachusetts social host law was back in the media this weekend when a mother and son were arrested following a large underage drinking party at their Cohasset home.

Police found 30 people at the Deep Run Road gathering. The mother was charged with furnishing alcohol to minors under the social host law, keeping a disorderly house and disturbing the peace. Her 18-year-old son was charged with furnishing alcohol to minors and being a minor in possession of alcohol.

The Massachusetts social host law was passed in 2000 after the 1996 death of a Marshfield teen. The teen had been drinking at a Cohasset graduation party and left with a blood alcohol limit of .19, crashing his car.

In that case, the homeowner was at the party but acquitted of providing alcohol to a minor. This was in part because underage guests helped themselves to unsupervised alcohol and were not offered drinks.

The social host law now holds Massachusetts homeowners and their teenagers more accountable. It is against the law to serve minors alcohol and allow them to consume it on any premises you control. The penalty is a fine up to $2,000, imprisonment for a year or both.

A person charged under the law can expect to face a civil lawsuit as well. If an underage guest leaves a party and causes a motor vehicle accident involving personal injury or death, both the underage guest and the party host may be liable.

When two or more parties are found civilly liable, any one of them may be required to pay the full judgment if the other party or parties cannot afford to pay.
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