Prom is a right of passage for many high school juniors and seniors. However, this year the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) is warning parents, teens and friends that is it illegal to provide alcohol to teens. DPS is implementing “social host” ordinances that make it unlawful to provide an environment where underage drinking takes place. This ordinance is a misdemeanor and any host found criminally responsible of violating the ordinance will face a penalty of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines.
In fact, if an adult provides alcohol to minors, the adult can be held responsible and suffer serious criminal, legal, and financial consequences including felony charges and prison time in the case of death. In addition, the adult can face civil liability charges in a case of injury, property damage or death as well as increased insurance rates. In January, a 21- year-old Wisconsin man was charged with providing alcohol to Minnesota teens and is facing felony charges and prison time. The teen driver later crashed near Stillwater, killing one of her passengers.
Minnesota also has a “Not a Drop” law. This law is targeted to minors who drive and consume any amount of alcohol. The result is a loss of their license from 30 to 180 days, a $700 fine and 90 days in jail. A citation of this nature will also stay on the driver’s record for 15 years. There were nearly 7,000 “not a drop” convictions issued to underage drivers during 2005–2007.
However, if minors are arrested for DWI or impaired driving crash, they will lose their license until age 18. If arrested it can result in one year in jail, and cost up to $20,000 when factoring in legal fees and increased insurance rates. A DWI remains on a person’s record for 15 years.
Teens should enjoy prom night. Parents, teens and friends should remember to be responsible and follow the law – no drinking and driving.