Underage Drinking & the Law

What parents need to know now about the new Social Host Laws

It could happen to anyone

Please share this with anyone you know who believes the Social Host Law can’t impact their family because they’ve discussed alcohol use with and made their rules clear to their teen-age children. Every night, between 2 and 3 am, I routinely receive 30 to 40 news stories about teens arrested for underage drinking around the country. Here’s one that may help you understand the difficulty we all face to protect our children.

Smithfield Town Council member Perry Harris is in China; his wife Jean was also out of town.. Their 19 year-old daughter was taking care of their 17 year-old daughter but now she — and any guest 18 years-old or older* — may be charged with twenty counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor**. The police busted up a party at the council member’s home, and are charging twenty minors with underage possession of alcohol.

Also present and charged was the 17 year-old daughter of David Mills, the Johnston county attorney. Mills was in the awkward position of having to issue a press release about his own daughter. In addition to reassuring the county residents that he takes this matter seriously, Mills affirmed his support for his daughter, who he considers, “a credit to our community, upholding very high standards as a student and as a volunteer in her school, church and at the hospital.”

I’m sure she is, just as I’m certain the Harris’ family could say something similar about their daughters. And that’s the point: it could happen to anyone.

* The 18 and 19 year-olds who went to a party at a friend’s home can now face serious charges even if they didn’t buy or drink alcohol themselves.

** Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is usually a more serious charge than an SHL.


To learn more:

Teens cited for booze at town official’s house – Local/State – NewsObserver.com. May 16, 2011 (revised May 17, 2011) – Newsobserver.com – Byline: Colin Campbell

Party at Smithfield councilman’s house leads to alcohol charges.   May 16, 2011 – WRAL.com – Byline: Matthew Burns

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