Underage Drinking | Social Host Law & Responsibility in California
In 2011 the California legislature amended Civil Code Section 1714(d) to allow claims “against a parent, guardian, or another adult who knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person under 21 years of age.”
Parents know teenagers are going to have get-togethers or parties. Having said that, most parents would rather have the kids at their house so they can keep an eye on their own child. I know that’s how we feel. Some parents, however, also feel it’s acceptable to provide alcohol to minors as long as they remain under adult supervision.
According to the law above, if they do, and the minor leaves their house and causes an accident, the host of the party can be held responsible.
A number of states have variations of this law. The laws are commonly known as “Social Host Laws.” This amendment is a major change to California law, which for many years specifically held that there is no social host responsibility. As to adults over 21, the law did not change, and generally, there is no social host responsibility.
California’s Zero Tolerance Law
Keep in mind that California also has a Zero Tolerance Policy as to drivers under 21 having alcohol in their system.
Most people know that it is against the law for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to be .08% or greater.
Many people, however, do not know that if you are under 21, it is against the law to have a BAC level of just .01% or greater.
If you are found to have violated the Zero Tolerance Law, at a minimum, your license will be suspended for a year.
So for the next teenager party at your house, make sure there is no alcohol. Not only is it a crime to furnish alcohol to a minor, you may also find yourself on the other end of a civil lawsuit. And the minor will be in a worse situation.
David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney and safe driving proponent. You can reach him at: 818.990.2120.