13 years old and drinking alcohol? It might sound shocking for some of us, but that’s what’s happening every day across the United States. But these minors are too young to purchase alcohol on their own, so where are they getting it?
If a Davidson County couple is any indication, minors are receiving alcohol from their parents. They’ve been charged with 7-counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor after they were found providing alcohol to minors as young as 13-years-old at their home.
The couple has broken several laws in North Carolina, and the first was the zero tolerance policy for underage drinking. The zero tolerance policy states that anyone who allows minors to drink or assists them in drinking will be prosecuted in criminal and possibly civil court.
The couple could also be liable under social host laws. The law states that if you are a social host of any kind, including bar owners, restaurant servers, and even those who just host a party, you have a responsibility to those you are serving. That means if someone decides to drink and drive and causes a crash, you could be liable for their actions because you served them alcohol in the first place.
Although social host laws are supposed to apply to adults, they may apply to those who serve minors as well. In the case of the Davidson County couple, it was fortunate that no one was injured or killed after the party due to binge drinking or drinking and driving.
Parents need to think about legal responsibility if they decide to provide alcohol to a minor, but they should also be questioning why they feel it’s OK for a minor to drink in the first place. Studies have shown teens that starting drinking young are more likely to have a problem with alcohol as they grow older, and they’re at an increased risk for death, injury, and sexual assault. Instead of giving them alcohol at a party, responsible parents should be standing at the door with a breathalyzer ensuring no one has drank before driving.
There’s a lesson in this story for all parents – you might want to look cool by providing alcohol to your child or your child’s friends, but it’s a bad idea all around. Think about the legal consequences for yourself and the potential outcome for your child, and then make the right choice and work to help them avoid underage drinking.