Mike Parker

Keeping Your Holiday Festivities Legal

Friday, January 5, 2018 at 2:24 PM
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There’s no time like the bleak mid-winter for celebrating. Wine and spirits sales increase significantly during the months of December and January as friends and family gather to celebrate the holidays. As the old song goes, “There'll be parties for hosting, Marshmallows for toasting and Caroling out in the snow.” Chances are, before the end of those parties, you’ll be ‘raising a cup of kindness to Old Lang Syne,’ and by ‘kindness’ we mean booze.

But while planning your holiday party, it might be a good idea to check your state and local laws regarding serving alcohol to your guests. You probably know that every state in the union requires individuals to be at least 21 years of age before they can purchase an alcoholic beverage. But did you know that all states prohibit providing alcohol to persons under 21 (although there are limited exceptions relating to lawful employment, religious activities, or consent by a parent, guardian, or spouse). Even in those states that offer and an exception to the drinking age related to such family member consent, that exception may be limited to a specific location, such as private residences, or in the parent or guardian’s home. But according to the Federal Trade Commission, no state offers an exception that permits anyone other than a family member to provide alcohol to a minor on private property.

In addition, the FTC warns, some states have “social host laws” that create responsibility for underage drinking events on property you own, lease, or otherwise control, even if you are not the “social host” who actually provided the alcohol to an underaged drinker.

Knowing the rules before you host your next party can help you celebrate in style, without incurring a legal hangover for violating a law you didn’t even know was on the books.