Teenage drinking has become a huge problem within Massachusetts and across the country. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), one in five teens binge drink while only 1 in 100 parents believes his or her teen binge drinks. In a 2009 survey called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, high school student were surveyed about the past 30 days. 42% of teenagers surveyed drank some amount of alcohol while 24% binge drank. 10% of the teenagers surveyed drove after drinking alcohol and 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled today in a case that involved a 16 year old girl who was seriously injured in a car accident after leaving a party where there was consumption of alcohol with her boyfriend in 2007. The party was hosted by a 19 year old. However, the 19 year old host did not supply the alcohol. The alcohol was brought by the boyfriend who was also the driver of the vehicle.
The court rejected the request to expand the social host liability laws of the state. The request was to create "duty of care" to any underage host of a party who does not supply the alcohol but instead supplies a place for those underage to drink alcohol. The court determined that a social host is only liable if the host serves or control the supply of alcohol. The Supreme Court ruled "that teenagers who host underage drinking parties but do not supply alcohol cannot be held civilly liable if one of their guests gets hurts". This ruling also states that a teenage host is not responsible even if they are aware of underage drinking. The only exception to this ruling is if the part host supplied or controlled the alcohol.
Many people believe that it is the parent's responsibility to be aware of their teenagers drinking. Some believe the owners of the house should be help responsible for underage drinking at their home whether they were aware or supplied the alcohol or not. Some even belief the teenage host of the party should be help responsible. While there are many opinions on this ruling, it is important to recognize the dangers of teenagers drinking.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Teenagers who drink alcohol are more likely to have school, social, legal, and physical problems. They are also more at risk for unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity, as well as physical and sexual assault. Also, anyone who drinks alcohol and drives put themselves, as well as passengers and others at risk for unintentional injuries due to car accidents.
It is important to remember whether you are hosting a party with alcohol or enjoying alcohol at a party to be responsible about transportation from the party. Party hosts should make sure that people are not driving home while intoxicated. If you have been drinking, make sure to have a designated driver, take public transportation, or take a taxi. If your driver has been drinking, make the responsible decision to find an alternate way home for both you and them.
One in three will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. If you or a loved one has been injured in an alcohol related accident, contact a Massachusetts car accident attorney to discuss your rights.
Court says teens not liable under social host law, The Boston Channel