Surefire Way to Avoid Civil Cause of Action for Damages

Minors, alcohol and underage drinking
As we approach the season of high-school proms, graduations and graduation open houses and parties, it is important to remember the basics concerning alcohol, minors and underage drinking. What may seem like a harmless or innocent circumstance in providing a minor with an alcoholic beverage can result in negative consequences lasting a lifetime to both the adult and the minor child. Zero tolerance by police officers
The laws are simple. First, it is against the law for a person under the age of 21 to consume any alcoholic beverage or have any bodily alcohol content period. If a minor child is determined to have consumed an alcoholic beverage or have any bodily alcohol content, they can be charged with a misdemeanor leading to fines, court-ordered substance abuse counseling, and in the case of multiple violations or offenses, up to 90 days in jail. You may have heard that many police agencies have made enforcement of the "minor in possession laws" ("MIP") a top priority. There is typically a zero tolerance by police officers who have reason to believe a minor has consumed or is in possession of alcohol. Civil cause of action for damages Next, it is against the law to sell or furnish alcohol to a minor. What some individuals don’t realize is that someone who furnishes alcohol to a minor, who is then involved in an accident causing bodily injury or death to another individual, is guilty of a felony punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years. Finally, in addition to criminal penalties, Michigan law provides the ability for an individual who is injured by a person under 21 years of age who is under the influence of alcohol in an automobile accident or any other occurrence to pursue a civil cause of action for damages against a "social host" who provided the alcohol to that individual. It is also important to note that several homeowner insurance policies have, over the past few years, become much more stringent in excluding such occurrences from insurance coverage in the event a civil cause of action is filed and pursued against a social host who provided alcohol to a person under the age of 21. Think twice before you pour
The rules are simple. The consequences are clear. Underage individuals who drink alcohol, and the persons who provide them with the alcohol, will face severe consequences. It is important to keep these important facts in mind when planning your upcoming graduation celebrations. Dan A. Penning