For high school age teenagers in Virginia, prom and graduation season rank among the times in their lives when they will have fun, be noticed and, for many, try to get away with underage drinking. It's no secret that many post-prom and graduation parties will consist of a neatly hidden stash of alcohol to celebrate the season, but what may not be as commonly known is that many parents provide the alcohol for their underage teenagers.
One Virginia county conducted a study on underage drinking during 2010-2011 which revealed that 65 percent of underage teenage drinkers were supplied alcohol by parents or family members or friends over 21. In Virginia, providing alcohol to a person under the age of 21 is illegal and may result in serious criminal charges and consequences.
Many parents who host parties for their teenagers during this season of celebration do so in the hopes of avoiding more severe, dangerous behaviors outside of their scope of protection. But is this protection enough, and what about the protection of the parents in the event of incident or injury? Underage drinking in Virginia is considered a serious offense and parents and teenagers should be prepared in the event they find themselves facing litigation or charges. Many parents may challenge party hosting parents who provide alcohol to underage attendees. This can lead to charges, litigation and damage to the reputation of the parents and families involved.
Along with initiatives around the state during the month of May to promote awareness about the dangers of underage drinking, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has distributed information detailing parental responsibilities and potential civil or criminal charges that parents can face if partygoers or others are injured. Newport News parents and teenagers should be aware that even if no incidents or injuries occur, they may still face legal issues for allowing alcohol to be served to minors on their property.
Everyone makes mistakes, many of them only once. While not every party will get out of hand, and not every drinker will get behind the wheel of a car, when it comes to underage drinking in Virginia, you simply cannot be too careful or protected from the harsh judgments and penalties that may be associated with being charged and convicted of an underage drinking-related crime.
Source: Fairfax News, "County Ramps Up Prom, Graduation Drinking Awareness Campaign," James Limbach, May 2, 2012