Teen-Drinking Campaign Targets Parents
Adults who provide alcohol face up to a year in jail, $4,000 fine
For years, law enforcement has targeted retailers who sell alcohol to minors. Now community leaders are taking aim at parents who provide a keg, six-packs, or shots to underage drinkers.
The “Parents Who Host, Lose the Most” campaign is headed by the Alliance on Underage Drinking. The campaign was born in 1999 after Dallas police issued 200 alcohol and curfew violations citations to Park Cities teens partying in a Deep Ellum warehouse.
The program, also sponsored by the North Texas Police Chiefs Association, schools and community programs, warns that those who give minors alcohol — either voluntarily or through negligence — will be punished.
“Too often parents look the other way when it comes to teen drinking, assuming it is a rite of passage. It is not unusual for well-meaning parents to provide alcohol to their teens’ friends at home parties.” explained one Alliance member. “We want to educate parents that providing alcohol to teens other than their own is illegal and irresponsible.”
The Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine. Previously, officers wrote Class C citations for minor possession or consumption of alcohol. Little was done to target those who hosted the party. Area police departments promise enforcement of the state’s “zero tolerance” policy on providing alcohol to minors.
Highland Park Department of Public Safety Chief Darrell F. Fant, who heads law enforcement involvement with the campaign, says that zero tolerance means officers must file cases.
“In the old days, Officer Friendly would pour it out, give the kids a lecture and say, “Don’t let me catch you with this again,” the chief said. “With zero tolerance, the individual discretion of the officer is taken away. We’re going to file every case.”
Grand Prairie Police Chief Glen Hill said fewer retailers are being cited for selling alcohol to minors and hopes this campaign will have a similar effect on parents.
Susan Hutchinson of the Park Cities-based Chemical Awareness Resources & Education (CARE) said the majority of young people who attend counseling at CARE say they got their alcohol at home or from a friend’s parent.
Chief Fant said it’s alarming that minors consume more than 10% of the nation’s alcohol, according to studies. Another recent study reported that girls were drinking nearly as much as boys.
The high school senior who organized the Deep Ellum warehouse party was sentenced to 12 months’ probation for providing alcohol to minors. The man who admitted buying 12 kegs of beer for the party pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of purchasing alcohol for a minor. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and fined $2,000.
Call (888) 843-8222 to report underage alcohol consumption to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Texas’ Underage Drinking Laws
What parents should know:
- As a parent, you cannot give alcohol to your teen’s friends under the age of 21 under any circumstance, even in your own residence, even with their parent’s permission unless they are visibly present.
- You cannot knowingly allow a person under the age of 21, other than your own child, to remain in your home or on your property while consuming or possessing alcohol.
- Your residence … your responsibility.
If you break the law:
- You face a maximum sentence of one year in jail and/or a $4,000 fine.
- You can be sued if you give alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 and they, in turn, hurt someone, hurt themselves, or damage property.