The issue of adults hosting parties with alcohol for their underage children and their children’s friends has been a hot topic in the last year. Currently, Maryland law makes it a misdemeanor crime for adults to “knowingly and willfully” allow someone underage to possess or consume alcohol in their home. However, the issue of whether the adults can be held civilly liable as well is not clear.
The criminal statute includes the ability to bring a civil action against adults who violate the law, but there is no right-to-sue statute associated with this crime. Court of Appeals judges are divided as to whether a civil action may be brought. Attorneys argue that civil liability may not be brought without a right-to-sue statute. Judges, however, claim that in a negligence action, they do not always wait for the legislature to add a right-to-sue statute. Another issue some of the judges have is where to draw the line as to when an adult is negligent based on their duty to prevent injury while an underage child is drunk. One Judge believes that a parent should not be held liable when a child sneaks a beer without the adult knowing. In situations where an adult knowingly provides alcohol to underage kids and hosts a party at their house, civil liability should be allowed.
There is legislation pending in the General Assembly that would impose jail time on adults who violate the criminal law. Currently, there are just minimal fines in place for violators. In the last year, there have been a couple high-profile incidents of adults hosting underage drinking parties where children leave the party, drive drunk, and kill innocent people.
If you or a family member has been charged with DUI or DWI in Maryland and would like a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on DUI or DWI please feel free to contact our office at (301) 854-9000 and schedule an appointment at our office in Frederick or throughout Maryland, or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Criminal-Defense/DWI-DUI/