You would think an experienced Massachusetts lawyer would know better but attorney Tracy Milner, noted as a nationally known criminal defense lawyer appears to have made a mistake many parents make when it comes to teenage drinking.
Ms. Milner has been accused of furnishing alcohol to minors, and keeping a disorderly house. This follows an appearance at her Scituate home by local police on New Year's Eve who found numerous 17-19 year olds drinking and smoking marijuana. The penalties for these charges, part of the social host liability law, may be a $2,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
Someone had called police just as 2013 got underway, and reported that there was an unconscious male at the party. Police found up to 30 teenagers running from the house at their arrival and reported difficulty entering the house as the doors were locked and no one answered their knocks. Upon spotting the unconscious teen through a window, firefighters forced open a sliding glass door and revived the boy.
As firefighters were treating the boy, Ms. Miner apparently came downstairs and stated that she had been sleeping and that she had thrown a party for her daughter, age 17. Ms. Miner was reported to show evidence of some alcohol use herself and was noted to be “unsteady on her feet”. Ms. Miner stated that she had collected car keys from the party-goers earlier in the evening and had planned for them to sleep over rather than try to drive home.
The unconscious male was transported to the hospital for further evaluation and the teens who remained in the house were all charged with minor in possession.
So, what can a parent do to provide a safe yet fun event?
1.Remember that you are not a “buddy” but a parent. A parent will make different, necessary decisions that a buddy might not make.
2.Taking the keys and allowing people to sleep over after they have been drinking is a good idea for adults, but NOT for kids.
3.Teen alcohol use should not be encouraged for many reasons but primary among them is that their brains are not fully developed. If you combine a teen brain with alcohol, the result is usually poor decision making.
4.If you leave a group of teens alone in your house with no access to adult supervision, things may go wrong. Inexperienced drinkers will drink too much and/or engage in behavior that they may regret the next day. Uninvited guests have a tendency to show up, thanks to the immediacy of contact through social media and smart phones, bringing an additional element of risk into your home.
It is possible to host a New Year's Eve or other type of party in your home for teens without alcohol or other drugs. Providing a safe alternative to risky behavior on that night can be a welcome relief to kids.
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