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Laws against furnishing alcohol to minors

On Behalf of | Sep 11, 2018 | College Students Charged With OUI And Underage Drinking

The legal drinking age in Massachusetts and around the United States is 21. That means if you supply alcohol to individuals under the age of 21, you could face misdemeanor charges. 

Massachusetts has the Social Host Law, which states knowingly providing alcohol to people under the age of 21 who are not your children is a punishable offense. There is an exception to this law stating parents and legal guardians can provide alcohol to a minor under their own roofs. That means parents could allow their underage children to have a sip of champagne or wine and would not face criminal charges. However, providing alcohol to anyone else will result in serious consequences. 

Punishments for such an offense

College students hosting parties where people will consume alcohol need to be certain they do not allow anyone younger than 21 to drink any. Upon a conviction, the person can face penalties of a fine up to $2,000 and jail time up to one year. It is also possible for the individual who furnished the alcohol to face a civil suit. For example, if a college student supplied alcohol to a minor, and that minor ended up crashing his car into someone else’s property, then the person who supplied the alcohol would hold some liability for the damage. 

Defenses for these charges

Under Massachusetts law, a DA needs to prove the person knowingly and intended to serve alcohol to minors. There are a variety of unique circumstances by which the person facing conviction could implement. For example, a college student or parent may supply alcohol to an individual with a fake ID. As a result, that person did not knowingly serve alcohol to a minor. 

Additionally, the owner of the premises may have been completely unaware alcohol was present in the home. Parents could have left for the weekend, and the underage children went out to purchase alcohol on their own. It is up to the DA to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the person intentionally supplied alcohol to minors. 


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