Many parents allow underaged kids to drink in their own home – often supplying the alcohol themselves – in an effort to “control” what they think is inevitable anyway.
This is very risky behavior. The Illinois Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act (740 ILCS 58/1), also known as the “Social Host Liability Law,” is a powerful remedy for those injured by underaged drinkers supplied alcohol by adults, regardless of where they drink it. It states that “any person at least 18 years of age who willfully supplies alcoholic liquor or illegal drugs to a person under 18 years of age and causes the impairment of such person shall be liable for death or injuries to persons or property caused by the impairment of such person.” The law goes further than most, as it also allows the injured party to obtain attorney fees and punitive damages from the adult who supplies alcohol to underage kids, and specifically prohibits the adult from blaming the underaged drinker for contributing to his or her own injuries.
Lastly, a homeowners insurance policy may exclude or limit coverage for social host liability, leaving parents to pick up the tab of a lawsuit with their own money – a recipe for financial devastation.
Alcohol and teenagers is not a good mix. Alcohol is associated with about 4,300 deaths for those underage kids every year, more than all illegal drugs combined. Added to that, car wrecks are the leading cause of death for kids aged 15-20. Parents are right to try to eliminate these harms, but supplying alcohol to teenagers can be a recipe for disaster.