Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Blog Stuff: Further rumination on the party thing...

Part of the thing that made me a bit incredulous at the whole Prom Party Shenanigans Scandal was the fact that there were criminal charges at all. I was unaware that it was against the law to allow a minor to drink at a private residence. Does this mean that if you allow your kid to have a glass of wine with dinner on special occasions, you're a bona fide criminal? Unreal (and also uncool.)

I'm not sure it was criminal in that time or place, (if it was, the statute of limitations has definitely run out,) but I remember that at the high school graduation party I attended, the parents who hosted it supplied beer and liquor. Car keys were deposited at the front door, and the only person allowed to leave before the next morning was a teen who could prove she hadn't had anything to drink, and even then she wasn't allowed to take any other partygoers with her on her snack run to the local grocery store. Heaven forbid that a bunch of young adults who are old enough to vote be allowed to sample alcohol under those circumstances.


Merl said...

ummm, yeah, that was illegal unless the drinking age was still 18 in the state and all of the party goers were 18. Now letting your ~16+ year old offspring have a glass of wine a couple times a year is unlikely to get you in jail because you won't let anyone who cares know. I could be a felony for all I know.

Tam said...

Wow! It didn't feel particularly criminal at the time.

Merl said...

You didn't commit a felony, as far as I know the most that usually happens for the drinker is probation and/or community service and you can't get a driver's license until 18/21 or you lose it for some period if you have one. I think in some states providing alcohol to minors (under 21) may be a charged as a felony. Note weasel words.

Matt G said...

Come on, Tam-- seriously? You don't know?

I don't know Tennessee law, but here in Texas, if the kid's parents aren't present, and you make alcoholic beverages available to them or even just provide a place for them to drink them, you're guilty of Furnishing Alcohol To A Minor. That's a Class A misdemeanor here, which is just barely on the happy side of non-felony. That's up to one year in jail, and you don't have to be over 21 to be charged with it.

If parents are present and are complicit, then it's cool, so long as the kid doesn't drive. (DUI By Minor is a zero tolerance law.)

If parents want to allow a kid to drink, that's cool, I think we all can agree. But a parent also should be assured that his or her wishes cannot be violated by another adult without legal repercussions. Even my libertarian side is cool with that.

I once got a house burglar (who had stolen a BUNCH of guns, then gotten scared and stashed them in the woods to rust almost to pieces, before confessing, only to get two years' felony probation with no prison time) committed to prison for probation violation, because he offered a 19 year old some whiskey in the last couple of months of his probation. To quote Art Eatman: Shame on his happy a$$.

Hobie said...

What is moral isn't necessarily legal and what is legal isn't necessarily moral. The nanny state will have at you one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

Your old enough to vote.

Your old enough to carry a gun and take orders to kill someone.

Your not old enough to have a beer.

Never understood that way of thinking.


Anonymous said...

Booze & the American psyche: a bad combination. The stuff gave us Prohibition & the Mob. Perhaps the legal drinking age ought to be the same as the legal voting age. You know, for some, that age might be 45!

staghounds said...

Not a felony in Tennessee. For an under 18, loss of license for a year (sometimes the judges give it back after 90 days), second offence 2 years.

Over 18-21, same thing but in adult court.

It's THOROUGHLY explained to them in the driving license process. They all know.

And in Tennessee it's an A misdemeanor to furnish to or obtain alcohol for an under 21.

The only cases I've seen of the store clerks who fail to card.

I see lots of DUA cases in juvenile court. The reason is that the same people who gripe about charging Mr. Suburbanini's guests for their private party will go ape if one of those guests leaves and kills himself and a car full of drunken 17 year olds.

Easy call for the officers.

I'll also say that I've never seen one of these "house party" cases that did not start with calls to the police from neighbours complaining about loud noise and / or drunken young people running around screaming.

Zero sympathy.

Sigivald said...

To echo matt, I believe in many/some states there's a "family" exemption that lets minors drink, in the presence of a parent and with said parent's permission.

That may or may not be true in Tennessee, but without their parents there it wouldn't matter.

Cybrludite said...

I think down here, it's charged as "Corrupting the morals of a minor", which means you get to send out postcards every time you move and have your picture up on the State Police's website...