New California Law Targets Adults Who Provide Alcohol to Minors
Parental liability for allowing teenagers to drink at a house party
So you are hosting a graduation party. Wouldn’t it be okay for the graduates to have a couple of beers available to celebrate? The short answer is: No. It’s never been a good idea to provide alcohol to minors. Recently, the California legislature started to get serious about it. Effective at the beginning of 2011, C.C.P. 1714(d) was enacted which allows claims to be filed against parents who
knowingly furnish alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person under 21 years of age. The law, commonly known as
social host liability law, applies to adults who knowingly furnish alcohol to minors in their home. Under this law, in addition to facing criminal charges for furnishing alcohol to a minor, the adults involved can also be held civilly liable in situations where alcohol they provided is determined to be the main cause of personal injuries or death. It is illegal in California for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol.
Think about it�?�
Furnishing alcohol to minors puts the entire community at risk. A person driving under the influence of alcohol puts himself in danger, and also jeopardizes the safety of others on the road. Up until now, California provided a general immunity to those furnishing alcohol, with limited exceptions. This law changes that, and will allow victims of drunk driving to seek compensation in such cases. However, it will not apply to licensed alcohol vendors, bars, and restaurants.
Just say no�?�
In our opinion, this recent change is long overdue. Adults should not be opening their liquor cabinets to minors and their friends. However, the new law does have some limitations. Injured victims or the family of the deceased victim must still prove that negligence occurred. It is not strict liability. But it is a much-needed additional step in the efforts to prevent teen drinking tragedies in California. We believe it will give many adults a reason to say no to underage drinking that they may have allowed previously.
- Social Host Liabilty Law: by: Raymond E. Lewis