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What’s the law?

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Posted on March 31, 2011
Tagged in underage drinking

Underage drinking isn't just about teens. Adults are legally responsible when kids drink.

What can happen to me if I let my children drink or let them have a party where there's drinking?
A: In Hawai‘i, not only is giving alcohol to a minor illegal, but allowing them to drink is unlawful. You can be arrested and criminally charged for providing a place for minors to drink whether it's at your home, yard, rental property, undeveloped land, car - any where under your control.

Being absent doesn't exempt you from liability if underage drinking occurs on your property. "I wasn't there," isn't an accepted excuse. You can still be charged with "negligent supervision."

Isn't it safer to let my kid drink at home where I can make sure they're safe?
A: Some parents think they'll be able to prevent things from going wrong if they're on hand. However, there's no way to stop the affects of alcohol on your kids' developing brains. Plus, letting them drink at home doesn't ensure their safety. Teens can easily overdose with you present, and because young people handle alcohol differently than adults, you may not be able to tell what is physically safe. And, remember, if anything goes wrong - property damage, assaults, injury, even death - you can be held both criminally and civilly liable.

Plus, if your giving alcohol to minors or allowing underage drinking leads to intentional acts of vandalism, fist fights, date rape and even possibly the transmission of STDs, you - as the adult - can be held liable.

Criminal penalties of up to a year in jail and fines up to $1,000 are just part of the penalties adults face for providing alcohol or allowing underage drinking. They can also face civil liabilities.

For more information, please visit the Resources section.