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Am I liable for my teenager's drinking behavior?

Underage drinking may seem like something that everybody does and no one cares as long as it's in a relatively safe environment, but the law does not always see it that way. It is true that very few individuals actually wait until they are 21 years of age to taste alcohol for the first time, and for most people, the first experiments with drinking occur while hanging out with teenage peers, often at one friend's house. On one hand, it is objectively better for these experiments to happen in a home, but that does not remove a liable parent's responsibility in the eyes of the law -- especially if harm comes to someone because of drinking that happened in his or her house.

Let's suppose your son or daughter is having a party, and you are aware of it. Even if you do not know that there is underage drinking occurring, it is possible that you may be held liable if that behavior leads to injury or property damage. In this case, it is a matter related to premises liability as well parental responsibility.

The law provides that social hosts can be held liable for any damages or injuries that occur as a result of underage drinking. This is also not limited to events that occur solely in your home. If you are the legal host of a party where there is underage drinking, and some of the attendees of the party drink and then proceed to get behind the wheel, you might even be held liable for injuries and damages suffered in a subsequent car accident.

While the reality is that people turn a blind eye to this kind of behavior much of the time, the law still stands. If you have an issue involving an underage drinking incident, an experienced attorney can help you prepare a strong defense and keep your rights and the rights of the ones you love protected.

Source: The Denver Post, "Ask Amy: Parents hosting teen party get busted," Amy Dickinson, accessed Jan. 24, 2017

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