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April 15, 2006 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Is being in the presence of underage drinking in any way illegal? Under what circumstances? Controlled substance consumption? How is the age of the "witness" relevant?
posted by phrontist to Law & Government (28 answers total)
 
If it matters, the states of Virginia and Kentucky are of particular interest.
posted by phrontist at 3:43 PM on April 15, 2006


Yes. If it gets busted, you are legally considered the adult in charge.
posted by fvox13 at 3:47 PM on April 15, 2006


Adults found with underage kids drinking or using drugs can be charged with 'contributing to the delinquency of a minor' in most, if not all, states.

Here is some information reguarding virginia.
posted by stavrogin at 3:47 PM on April 15, 2006


uh. regarding.
posted by stavrogin at 3:48 PM on April 15, 2006


What about a minor, not hosting, but simply a guest of a party?
posted by phrontist at 3:55 PM on April 15, 2006


And if not a minor, someone under 21.
posted by phrontist at 3:57 PM on April 15, 2006


i'm stretching here, but i'm pretty sure you wouldn't be on the hook if the person is over 18, but under 21. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor only applies if the person is, in fact, a minor.

i think the worst that would happen is that the person would get picked up for underage drinking.

Which isn't to say that they couldn't find something to charge you with. Disorderly conduct seems to be a popular catch-all for this sort of thing.

But IANAL or a LEO blah blah yadda
posted by quin at 4:12 PM on April 15, 2006


Check the local news for stories about cops busting up parties - the degree of enforcement can matter much more than the letter of the law. In my NYC experience, for example, it is generally noise complaints by toolbag neighbors (calling the police as the first step rather than just asking that the music be turned down) that bust a party and the police response is usually to just make everyone leave. Meanwhile I read stories from the suburbs where the cops are seriously fucking everyone over.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:14 PM on April 15, 2006


TheOnlyCoolTim: What are the non-drinking (presumably breathalyzer passing) underage persons getting charged with?
posted by phrontist at 4:16 PM on April 15, 2006


"i'm stretching here, but i'm pretty sure you wouldn't be on the hook if the person is over 18, but under 21. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor only applies if the person is, in fact, a minor."

You can get in trouble for providing alcohol to someone under 21. I wouldn't be surprised if you could get in trouble for it whether or not you provided the alcohol.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:17 PM on April 15, 2006


Scenario: Large party of 17-21 year olds drinking, many illegally. Cops arrive. What can the teetotaling 17 year old be charged with?
posted by phrontist at 4:20 PM on April 15, 2006


(in addtion to drinking, all manner of illicit substance is being consumed)
posted by phrontist at 4:21 PM on April 15, 2006


The bottom line, I think, is that if the cops want to bust you they will and you'll it'll be up to your expensive lawyers to figure out if it was legal. That's the way the system works, unfortunately. If you can avoid partying with minors it might be a good idea.

There was a woman recently busted for providing her sons friends with booze, drugs, and (if I'm not mistaken) sex. She was given 30 years in jail or something absurd. Not in your states of interest though, but you can definitely get in trouble over it.
posted by delmoi at 4:22 PM on April 15, 2006


TheOnlyCoolTim: What are the non-drinking (presumably breathalyzer passing) underage persons getting charged with?"

I don't know, because we've never had any non-drinking underage persons around.

I've only seen people charged with something once, (Illegal Sale of Alcohol and Noise summons to someone who lived in the apartment, and Public Drinking to someone who stepped into the hallway with a cup of beer) and I don't remember from the news stories. And NYC / NY suburbs laws and levels of enforcement are likely to be completely different from Virginia.

The prohibitionists at MADD have compiled a site summarizing the laws and linking to the appropriate state websites, so you can find the letter of the law there, but you won't find the de facto situation unless you find out about experiences of people living near you.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:27 PM on April 15, 2006


The cops could possibly charge all the kids there with posession of alcohol. I'm sure they'd find something, regardless of how obscure if they really wanted to get you in trouble.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 4:32 PM on April 15, 2006


For comparison, Minnesota calls it "social host liability". For example, if you get an underage person drunk at a party, and the drunk underage person drives off and kills someone, you can be sued for damages by the next-of-kin of the deceased.

I am neither a lawyer nor a partier, for what it's worth, but some of the terminology here may help you in googling.
posted by gimonca at 5:07 PM on April 15, 2006


Actually, it turns out that MADD keeps a state-by-state summary.
posted by gimonca at 5:16 PM on April 15, 2006


I've had varying experiences with police and parties. As people have said, you can always be charged with something. In high school, I was at a party where a police helicopter was working in conjunction with about ten police cars to set up a cordon around this one house. They wanted to catch everyone. I jumped the backyard fence when I heard the commotion out front and snuck sideways through people's yards while the helicopter was hovering over the other half of the block. The same year, my stepsister hurt her ankle jumping from a low balcony to escape a similar kind of bust - she was sitting in agony on the ground while the cops were asking her questions and charging her. I'm sure anyone over 21 at those two parties was charged with something. This past New Year's, I was at a party full of underage college and high school students. When the police arrived, I was allowed to sit on a couch and continue drinking with my of-age friends while all the kids filed out the front door. They didn't even bother to check my ID when I claimed to be of age. No one was arrested or cited. So, in high school when I was living in Omaha, the police were awful, and here in college in Lawrence they're pretty cool.


TheOnlyCoolTim has it right; the letter of the law is not nearly important as the actual experiences of people in the area of interest.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 5:42 PM on April 15, 2006


In Missouri, in 1989, we were busted for violating curfew. (Drinking going on inside house, nerdy teetotalers outside on the trampoline eating pizza). They sent a helicopter to spotlight us, naturally. I don't even know if curfew laws even exist in other states, though.
posted by Chanther at 5:45 PM on April 15, 2006


[quote]The cops could possibly charge all the kids there with posession of alcohol. [/quote]
Not unless said kid has a cup in their hand when they come in the door. And that's assuming you let them in. Don't let them in, kids.

Everywhere I've lives the only people they can charge with providing alcohol to a minor is whoever rented the keg and failed to check ID, unless some minor rolls on them. And unless they are total bastards or someone kills themselves driving home they generally won't even do that.
posted by fshgrl at 6:27 PM on April 15, 2006


Is the goal to avoid being charged or avoid being convicted? To avoid being charged, stay away altogether.
posted by winston at 7:06 PM on April 15, 2006


This is probably totally useless. But nonetheless: in my freshman dorm, drinking policy was such that anyone who was in a room where there was alcohol - whether they were flat-out wasted or hadn't touched a drop - was usually punished in some way.
posted by anjamu at 7:24 PM on April 15, 2006


Scenario: Large party of 17-21 year olds drinking, many illegally. Cops arrive. What can the teetotaling 17 year old be charged with?

Probably not ultimately charged, but taken down to the station, questioned and lectured, threatened with...something like disorderly conduct or assessory to drunk teenager or whatever they want to call your 'crime', and then permit release only to parents' custody.

Oh, and in VA at least, don't tell the cop to fuck off. If he wants to be a jerk, he can arrest you for swearing.
posted by desuetude at 7:36 PM on April 15, 2006


phrontist - if you're at a college, it very well may be likely that being in the presence of alcohol as a minor is a violation of your student code. At many state schools (esp in Virginia, I'm not sure about Minnesota), that is something that while the university police might not cite you for, they may refer you to appropriate disciplinary boards for further follow up.
posted by cajo at 8:06 PM on April 15, 2006


Not unless said kid has a cup in their hand when they come in the door. And that's assuming you let them in. Don't let them in, kids.

Although there may be some college regulation or some local law about "cup-in-hand," that is just a custom/myth. I know at my college, that was basically how things went down, if you didn't have a cup in your hand, the campus police wouldn't bust you. But that wouldn't have stopped them or real police if they really wanted to bring you down to the station. I would just make it harder for them to prove that you were drinking because they wouldn't have that bit of circumstantial evidence against you.

As for the not letting them in part, you must first assume that the Fourth Amendment is still in effect.
posted by Falconetti at 8:20 PM on April 15, 2006


Not unless said kid has a cup in their hand when they come in the door.

In Texas, the minor can be charged with possession if there is an open container of alcohol within his/her reach.
posted by syzygy at 4:33 AM on April 16, 2006


not sure how it is in other states, but in michigan, one can be charged with "frequenting a disorderly house" ... which is pretty vague
posted by pyramid termite at 7:16 AM on April 16, 2006


In Georgia, you can definitely get in trouble with the law for providing alcohol to under-age kids if you're >21. It has happen to some friends up at UGA. The "adults" didn't get anything too bad, and the <21 got underage possession. The real problem is if they get caught a second time.
posted by jmd82 at 11:52 AM on April 16, 2006


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