Laws vary by state, but to drink alcohol in New York, ‘legal’ means 21, no ifs and or buts, and that doesn’t mean just in public facilities. If your teen wants to have friends over, there is no more important time for parents to “be” parents.
Everyone wants their kids to have fun and ‘fit in’, so there may be the temptation to look the other way, have a very minimal presence during a gathering in the home, or make the rationalization of ‘well, at least I’ll know where they are’. Perhaps your teen might even revert to some emotional blackmail, and try to align their behavior with your behavior as an adult. WRONG.
Michael Greenspan is a partner at the law firm of Greenspan & Greenspan in White Plains who concentrates his practice in personal injury and criminal defense. Michael wrote about an important decision handed down by New York’s highest Court last week regarding the liability of party-hosting parents. He has these words of caution for parents hosting a teen party:
Preparation is key- first, set rules as a condition of having a party, prior to word getting out. Let your teen know what to expect, and that these rules will be enforced. Check all bags coming into the house, Bulky coats can conceal a lot, taking coats and putting them in another room gets the word out quick.
Supervise; even invite some other parents over for support. Walk around your property, to make sure nothing is hidden outside, or being brought in through another window/entrance.
What to do if alcohol is discovered? End the party right then and there. Have each guest call their parent and ask to be taken home. Do not let teens leave your home until their parents arrive.
What if a minor is intoxicated? You call the minor’s parents. If the minor is vomiting, passed out or otherwise unresponsive, call 911 immediately. Their health and safety is paramount. Do not let any minor leave the property until their parent arrives.
What if a guest is injured on your property? Call 911, then the guest’s parents. You also need to be prepared to defend and protect yourself. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you can, once you have contacted 911 and the injured teen’s parent or guardian, and notify your homeowners insurance company as well
www.MADD.org is also a great source of prevention tips. Not fun stuff, but please-don’t let your inaction lay the groundwork for a real tragedy.