From Lexington High School to A.C. Flora, its time for the prom, class parties and graduation trips.
Whether you are browsing prom dresses for 2010, looking at prom hair, prom makeup, planning your first week trip to Myrtle Beach, or deciding what to wear for graduation, I bet jail time is the last thing from your mind. However, for many students, this rite of passage involves alcohol, provoking the dilemma of how to properly parent the situation.
Enter the clever parent with the ideal solution to minimize the otherwise risky behavior and danger associate with under age drinking…encouraging their teens and his or her friends to drink at home.
Even if your child is 18, they are still considered to be under the legal age for consuming and purchasing alcholic beverages. If you serve alcohol to minors in your home, in addition to the life long guilt you may feel in the event of an accident, you potentially face serious criminal and financial consequences for wilfully providing alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 in South Carolina.
Simply put, if a minor, or even an individual 18 – 20 years old, consumes alcohol purchased or provided by you at your home and then leaves and causes injury to themselves or another party, you are legally responsible, subjecting you to criminal penalties and financial liability.
Recently, two South Carolina women were charged in Florida while chaperoning a senior graduation trip and allowing the consumption of alcohol by minors at a party under their supervision. As recently reported by WLTX, Osceoloa County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a party and witnessed several individuals consuming alcoholic beverages.
When questioned by police, one of the adult chaperones admitted to purchasing the alcohol for the students, who were under the legal drinking age, and allowing them to consume the drinks. The two currently face charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Fortunately, in this real life situation there were no fatalities, accidents or other alcohol-related incidents, just the potential for one.
In addition to exposure to criminal penalties and fines, adults who knowingly and willfully provide alcohol to persons under the legal drinking age, can be held liable for damages resulting from the host’s service of alcohol to a guest or a third party who may be injured or killed by the guest in an alcohol related incident. In layman’s terms -this equates to lawsuits and the potential for huge financial damages.
Recently joining other states in establishing social host liability laws, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that ” an adult social host who knowingly and intentionally serves, or causes to be served, an alcoholic beverage to a person he knows or reasonably should know is between the ages of 18 and 20 is liable to the person served and to any other person for damages proximately resulting from the host’s service of alcohol.”
In addition to financial liability, you could be looking at criminal charges. South Carolina law prohibits giving alcoholic beverages to persons under the age of 21.
While the law does recognize some specific exceptions in that it allows a parent or spouse over the age of twenty-one to serve their underage child, it does not extend that exception to providing alcohol to other minors or adults ages 18 to 20 who are below the legal drinking age. Criminal penalites for individuals found guilty of this offense can result in fines and/or imprisonment. If found guilty of giving alcohol to a minor, additional penalites for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor can assessed with fines up to $3,000 and/or three years imprisonment.
If the law itself is not enough to dissuade you, factor in somes eye-opening statistics from Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) regarding the use of alcohol by teens and you might think twice before providing alcohol at your teen’s next party.
- Three out of every four students (75%) have consumed alcohol by the end of high school;
- About two fifths of students have consumed alcohol by 8th grade;
- More than half (58%) of 12th graders report having been drunk at least once in their life;
- Twenty-eight percent (28%) of 15 to 20-year-old drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking;
- 28.5% of high school students nationwide had ridden one or more times in a car or other vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol;
Despite the existing law, many support dropping the legal drinking age in South Carolina to 18. What do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
The criminal defense attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. include a former United States Attorney, a former public defender, a former Assistant Attorney General and Richland County Assistant Solicitor, as well as a tax lawyer familiar with IRS criminal investigations. The Strom Law Firm aggressively defends individuals on all criminal charges in all State and Federal Courts in South Carolina as well as the Federal Courts in Georgia. Our lawyers proudly edit the Columbia, South Carolina Injury Board as well as the Strom Law Blog as a pro bono effort to provide the public valuable information. Our lawyers are licensed in: South Carolina, New York, and Georgia.