Legal Issues

Legal Issues of Supplying Alcohol to Minors

Q: What is the worst that can happen if I buy teens alcohol or let underage kids drink at my house?

A: Up to $2,500 for a first-time offender. Up to $5,000 for repeat offenders.

Parents are ultimately responsible for what happens to children drinking alcohol in their presence -- financially, physically and socially. In Maryland, legal consequences are real if a parent or adult is caught buying teens alcohol or letting underage kids drink in or around their house. In addition to the legal consequences, parents risk the social embarrassment of their actions as well as being labeled “that guy." Further, it’s not up to you or your responsibility to make decisions for another parent’s child about providing alcohol or letting them drink alcohol in your presence. Think twice before buying minors alcohol or letting kids drink at your house!

The Law – What It Says

Article 27, Section 401(b) of the Annotated Code of Maryland states that an adult may not knowingly and willfully allow an individual under 21 years of age to actually possess or consume an alcoholic beverage at the residence, or within the curtilage of the residence, that the adult owns or leases as a tenant and in which the adult resides.

In other words, even if you do not furnish alcohol for an underage drinker in your home or the property around your residence but give implicit approval, such as turning your head or not providing adequate supervision, you may be subject to prosecution under this law.

The Law - What It Means to You

If you are convicted of giving alcohol to a person under 21 years of age, you are subject to a:
$500 fine for the first offense and $1,000 fine for each additional offense. Others can sue you if you give alcohol to a minor, and they, in turn, hurt someone or damage property.

You may lose time and money for:

  • Attorney conferences and fees
  • Court appearances and costs
  • Fines
  • Higher insurance rates
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Lost time from work

Be the Parent on the Scene!

Allowing children to drink alcohol in/around your home or buying alcohol for minors is not only illegal; even worse, the teens themselves view it as a failure of parenting when the adult is not acting as the “Parent on the Scene.”

Resources

In addition to the information found on the Be the Parent on the Scene web site, we offer a comprehensive list of resources related to underage and binge drinking and alcohol abuse.