It’s an exciting time of year, when many of our children are graduating high school or college. It is a time of celebrations, family gatherings and class parties. Yet amid the fun and festivities, as a parent, you worry about your child’s safety. This is the time of year where underage drinking skyrockets. In fact, according to the International Institute of Highway Safety, June is the deadliest month for fatal teenage traffic accidents.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has stated that “underage drinking is more likely to kill a young person than all illegal drugs combined.” Whether teen drinking causes a car accident, DUI, property damage, or other accidents, it is important to be aware of the dangers and liability not only for your child, but also for you as the parent.
Here are some IMPORTANT THINGS to keep in mind as we enter graduation season:
Don’t make the mistake of automatically assuming that your child is safe because they are being supervised by adults. Just because there is an adult hosting a party, for instance, doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be drinking going on. In fact, statistics report that 55% of underage drinkers say that their main source for alcohol is family and friends.
It is important to know where your child is going and who they are going with. It’s a good idea to confirm this if possible. If the child is going to a graduation party at a particular home, call the parents and confirm this.
Driving is NOT an Option
Make it clear that if they are going to party, driving is simply not an option. Make it known that if they drink, you will be available to pick them up whatever the time, no questions asked. It’s a great idea to set up an Uber or Lyft account for them as well. Or, establish ahead of time that everyone who goes to the party will spend the night.
Some parents prefer to host their own graduation party, so they can invite their own family and friends. By doing this, you may have better control over what goes on and be able to keep your child home where you can keep an eye on the festivities; however, this has some important considerations as well:
It is a big decision whether you want to serve alcohol at your party. Even though the graduate and their friends may be underage, often the host wants to serve alcohol for others attending that are of legal age.
If you decide to serve alcohol, take a few precautions. If a child decides to drink at your party, make it a policy that they have to surrender their car keys, spend the night, or get a ride home.
Know Your Social Host Liability
The liability for providing alcohol to an under-age child, even with the parent’s permission, carries serious consequences. These can range from being convicted of a misdemeanor to being financially responsible for damages caused by the teen.
A social host who serves alcohol in North Carolina has civil liability as well. This liability applies whether the person being served is 21 years old or not. You as a host you could be liable for any damages that occur if your guest is in an accident after leaving your home. The test for liability is you:
- Provided the alcohol;
- Knew or should have known the person was intoxicated; and
- Knew they were going to drive.
Graduation season is a time of celebration, but it is important to stay mindful of the potential dangers involved so that they can be avoided. If you or a loved one find yourself involved in an accident during this season, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to provide personalized, compassionate, caring legal assistance. Your first consultation with us is free, so please give us a call at 844-472-9683.