Police: Hosting Underage Drinking Parties is Criminal Activity

In response to a report in the Snoqualmie Police Department’s weekly press log (i.e. police blotter) that some local parents were being charged with contributing to a large teenage party where alcohol was present, sometimes referred to as “social hosting,” the City of Snoqualmie released more information on the sensitive topic this week.

According to a City of Snoqualmie press release:

Some parents believe that if their underage children might drink alcohol, it is safer to let them drink at home. However, what is 21 zero tolerancenot considered is the wide range of harmful and sometimes devastating consequences that underage drinking can have whether at home or not.

These tragedies may include alcohol poisoning that can result in death; traffic crashes; increased risky sexual behavior; assaults; and serious accidental injuries related to falls or poor judgement.

Since 2010, the Snoqualmie Police Department has responded to three underage drinking parties each year or “social host” parties – when adults who knowingly or unknowingly host underage drinking parties on property they own or otherwise control.

“Being a ‘cool’ parent does not include hosting illegal underage drinking parties,” said Steve McCulley, Snoqualmie Police Chief. “Our kids look to parents and adults as role models for proper guidance and acceptable mature behavior. Make the right choice and do not host an underage drinking party or knowingly allow your child to attend one.”

In Washington state, when adults serve or supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, they can be subject to criminal activity, which consists of criminal prosecution, fines, and imprisonment, in addition to any civil liability imposed on the underage drinker, such as a litigation brought against the host to pay for medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering related to the injured party.

 

According to the Washington State Liquor & Canabis Board 

RCW 66.44.270 states, “It is unlawful for any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one years or permit any person under that age to consume liquor on his or her premises or on any premises under his or her control.” The penalties include a fine of up to $5,000 and one year in jail.

In addition to having this statutory obligation, a social host owes a “duty of reasonable care” to a minor to whom the host furnishes alcohol. This means the host may be held liable if the minor is injured in any way. In Washington, a social host is not liable for merely permitting a minor to consume on their premises, but also for alcohol that the host did not furnish.

Recommendations from the Experts

What Parents Should Do

  • Do not allow underage drinking parties in your home.
  • Do not supply alcohol to anyone under 21.
  • Talk to your older children about not providing alcohol to their underage siblings and friends.
  • Be at home when your teen has a party.
  • Drop into the party occasionally to make sure alcohol is not brought in by others.
  • If you are going to be away overnight, have your children spend the night at a friend or relative’s home with adult supervision.
  • Talk to other parents to make sure they are not providing alcohol to your children.
  • Provide alcohol-free activities in your home and make your children’s friends feel welcome.
  • Report underage drinking violations to local law enforcement.

To learn more about social hosting laws, visit the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board website.

 

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