There are many parents who let their underage children, and friends, host parties, with alcohol present, and in Maryland these “cool” parents now run the risk of being sued. Maryland’s highest court ruled that parents are held liable if they know underage drinking is happening in their house and an underage drinker gets hurt or hurts someone else.
Usually the law mandates that only the individual themselves whether they are drunk or sober, are to be held responsible for their own conduct. But, an underage person consuming alcohol on an adult’s property with the adult’s complicity, is now being considered as an entirely different story.
This change was intended to be a deterrent from adults giving alcohol to minors.
The term “complicit” is a key aspect of this definition. This prohibits adults from “knowingly and willfully” letting drinking occur. In addition, parents are liable if they know underage drinking is happening in their house. Thus, parents whose children sneak into their home with alcohol would likely not be held responsible in court.
“Underage persons are not solely responsible for drinking alcohol on an adult’s property because they are not competent to handle the effects of this potentially dangerous substance.” Judge Sally D. Adkins wrote.
This is being hailed as a “groundbreaking” step, as activists believe that this ruling will help dissuade adults from providing alcohol to minors.
Many parents believe that they are keeping their children safer by letting them drink at home where adults can watch over them, but this is not always the case.
The Court of Appeals recognized what many have long known, “individuals that are underage lack the judgement and competence to decide whether to drink.” Parents who are home during the party can face a civil lawsuit or even criminal charges. On top of this, the parent may be ordered to pay the medical bills and other damages suffered by the teen and anyone else who may be injured in an accident.