Dedham police issued a statement Tuesday warning parents about the legal ramifications of hosting underage drinking parties following the prom or other events.
Whoever furnishes alcohol to a person under 21 can be punished by a fine of up to $2,000 or imprisonment or both, according to the release. "Furnish" is defined as knowingly supplying or allowing a youth to possess alcoholic drinks on a person’s property. The law also covers teenage alcohol parties held with a parent’s knowledge, the statement read.
The law also applies to alcohol parties held by individuals under 21 who host parties while their parents are away, according to the statement.
The statement included the following questions and answers about the law:
Am I breaking the law if I allow my child’s underage guests to consume alcohol in my home?
Yes. The legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. It is against the law to serve or provide alcohol to underage guests or to allow them to drink alcohol in your home or on other property you control.
Can I be sued if my child or an underage guest at my home drinks alcohol and injures someone?
Yes. You may be financially responsible if your child or underage guest injures another person (or him or herself) after having consumed alcohol if you controlled the supply of the alcohol, made it available, or served it.
What if my child allows underage guests to drink or possess alcohol at my home or other property I control?
You or your child may be charged criminally. For you to be found guilty under the Social Host Law, the Commonwealth must prove that you or your child knowingly or intentionally supplied, gave, provided, or allowed minors to possess alcohol at your home or other property you controlled. You or your child may also be sued civilly.
Does the Social Host Law apply if I rent a hotel room for my daughter’s party?
Yes, since you control the hotel room, the Social Host Law applies.
Will my homeowner’s policy cover the costs of litigation and any judgment against me or my child?
You may or may not be covered, especially if the underage drinker causes injury or death by use of an automobile. Many insurance policies do not cover situations where criminal conduct is involved.