The summer months are not just filled with summer jobs and family vacations for teenagers. Weekends are also filled with prom celebrations, graduation parties, and Fourth of July festivities — all of which often include alcohol. Underage drinking can cause concerns for parents, and Gaudette Insurance wants to make sure that you, your friends, and your family understand the repercussions of providing alcohol to teenagers.
Underage Drinking Laws
Did you know that in Massachusetts it is a criminal offense to furnish alcohol to a minor under the legal drinking age of 21?
Serving drinks to someone else’s child is a criminal offense and if proven, you could be facing jail time and a fine — or both.
You can also be sued in civil court for damages as social hosting laws aim to split the liability between you as the host, and the underage drinker you supplied who injures someone else.
What Does “Furnishing” Alcohol to a Minor Mean?
Under M.G.L. c. 138, s. 34, to “furnish” means to knowingly or intentionally supply, give, provide or allow to possess alcoholic beverages on your property or any premises you control. This includes charges such as “supplying alcohol to minors,” “furnishing alcohol to a minor,” and “providing alcohol to a minor.”
The penalty if convicted of furnishing to one or more minors is up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both jail and the fine.
Drunk Driving Statistics
A recent study reports two-thirds of people injured or killed in car crashes involve a teen driver. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released this figure as part of its “100 Deadliest Days” report on the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes caused by teens during the summer months, according to AAA.
Teen drivers ages 15-18 are 17% more likely to cause a fatal car crash in the summer than other times of the year — and 1 in 6 teens involved in fatal summer crashes tested positive for alcohol.
Explain to your teen that there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving in your home. Remind them that they should never get into a car with a friend who has been drinking and you will do everything you can to help them get home safely in situations involving alcohol. Come up with an emergency plan together before there is a crisis situation.
Commonly Asked Questions that Gaudette Insurance Can Answer
Is furnishing or supplying alcohol to minors a felony?
No. Currently, an offense for furnishing a minor is charged as a misdemeanor.
Does furnishing apply to parents providing alcohol to minors?
Yes. If the under 21 guests are not family, then you could face criminal charges and punishment if you are found guilty.
What is social liability?
Social host liability is a civil law — not criminal law — concept that addresses whether someone who hosts a party, or allows their underage child to host a party where underage drinking occurs, can be sued for any damage or injury the underage drinkers cause. In Massachusetts, the law has been that a social host can only be held liable where he or she actually provided or served the alcohol.
Can a minor attempting to purchase alcohol be punished?
A minor who tries to purchase alcohol for their own use or for the use of others will be punished by a fine of $300. If convicted of violating this law, the minor’s driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days.
Can a minor transport alcohol?
No. It is illegal in Massachusetts for anyone under the age of 21 to transport alcohol unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, or if they are between 18-21 and they are transporting alcohol as part of their job. The fine for a first offense is no more than $50, for subsequent offenses no more than $150.
Gaudette Insurance hopes that these tips and statistics help prepare you and your teenager for the upcoming summer months. Contact Gaudette Insurance today with any questions at 508-234-6333 or on our website at gaudette-insurance.com.