A rather interesting trend is occurring in Maryland that involves parents allowing people who are under the legal drinking age to have parties at their homes. In this state, doing that comes with the possibility of criminal penalties because of a Maryland law that forbids adults from allowing underage drinking. A new ruling by the highest court in Maryland now adds another possible penalty that adults who allow underage drinking might have to face — civil penalties.
The Court of Appeals noted that children aren’t able to handle the effects of alcohol. With that note, the court ruled that adults who allow children to consume alcohol can be held liable in civil court. The court’s opinion is a marked difference from the usual reluctance that it has shown for holding third parties liable for the actions of people who are drunk.
This ruling means that if a child consumes alcohol at their home or someone else’s, the adults who were present and allowed the alcohol consumption could be named in a civil lawsuit if the minor causes an accident that injures someone else. They could also be named in a lawsuit that seeks financial compensation for injuries the minor suffered.
Adults who know that children are consuming alcohol should know that the law frowns upon that behavior. They should also know that they are now responsible for making sure that the minors don’t hurt themselves or others. For example, the adults should make sure that teens who drive don’t have access to car keys since drunk driving might end in an accident that injures or kills the teen or others on the road.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Maryland parents who host parties where teens get drunk now face civil suit,” Ian Duncan, July 05, 2016