Dear Kelley,

I need to learn more about the law and allowing teens to drink alcohol.  My colleague and I went out for dinner after a meeting a few weeks ago.  She shared that she allowed her 16-year-old daughter and a few of her daughter’s close friends to drink at her home and she has done this several times.  She took “precautions”, her words not mine, by taking their keys away and making them put their phones in a basket in the kitchen so they wouldn’t post pictures on social media.  I understand why she thinks she might be doing the right thing.  However, my brother is in law-enforcement and he indicated she is putting herself and entire family at risk for some severe consequences.  I wanted to warn her, as she truly is a good person.  I think she just doesn’t understand all that could potentially go wrong.  Where can I find more information.

Sincerely,

Deb

Dear Deb,

Thank you for your question.  Most underage drinkers get their alcohol from adults. In 2004, the NH legislature passed a law (RSA 644:18) to hold “hosts” of parties responsible for the actions of underage participants. This law can be applied to any adult.

It’s important to understand that a “host” can be a person who:

  • Is (at least) 17 years old
  • Owns, rents, or has control of the site,
  • Knows about the party
  • Knows that persons under the age of 21 have a plan to drink alcohol or use drugs

It’s also important to understand that a “party” is:

  • Five or more people under the age of 21 (not related to the host) are present
  • At least one person under the age of 21 has an alcoholic drink or an illegal drug

In terms of the law, a person who hosts a party where minors drink alcohol or use drugs may be charged with a misdemeanor, fined up to $2,000, and spend a year in jail.  Someone under the age of 21 who has an alcoholic drink may lose their license, vehicle, or college scholarship. Additionally, they may be fined up to $600, if caught with a false ID up to $2,000, and/or a prison sentence.  For more information regarding the NH Party Host Liability Law visit: pphnh.org .

Sincerely,

Kelley

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