Think before they drink: It’s illegal for parents to host alcohol parties

High school graduation is a time of celebration, which could turn to tragedy for those who violate underage drinking laws.

Agents with the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Investigative Unit and Ohio Division of Liquor Control are reminding students not to use drugs or alcohol, and for parents to refrain from providing alcohol or a place to drink.

“Hosting a graduation party with alcohol is not giving your children and their friends a safe place to gather,” said Erik Lockhart, senior enforcement commander. “Adults who choose to host a party with drugs and alcohol are not only opening themselves up for jail time, fines and civil suits; but could ultimately be responsible for the loss of life.”

To support responsible choices, parents and teens need to understand Ohio’s underage drinking laws.

  • It is illegal to provide a place for your child and his or her friends to drink. Parents may not provide alcohol to children younger than 21, who are not their own, even in their own home with the other parents’ permission. Those convicted of providing alcohol to a person under 21 face a maximum six month in jail and/or $1,000 fine.
  • It is illegal to purchase alcohol for anyone younger than 21. Anyone who purchases, sells or gives alcoholic beverages to underage individuals faces a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail.
  • Anyone younger than 21 caught driving with a 0.02% or higher blood alcohol level can be arrested. Punishment is driver’s license suspension for 90 days to up to two years, plus four points added to driving record. An open container of alcohol in a vehicle also is illegal.

Carry-outs and drive-thru businesses also should be on alert for underage individuals attempting to purchase alcohol, agents said.

Permit holders and liquor agency stores are responsible for ensuring they are are not selling to or serving those younger than 21, the liquor control division said.

“These celebrations can turn into tragedies when they’re combined with alcoholic beverages and can result in lifelong effects on teens, their families and their communities,” said DOLC Superintendent Jim Canepa. “Taking steps to stop the sale of alcoholic beverages to underage consumers can help keep teens and communities safe, sound and secure.”

Anyone with information about a bar, store or carryout selling alcohol to persons younger than 21, or anyone with information of an underage house party, can notify the Ohio Investigative Unit by calling #677 on your cellphone for the complaint to be investigated.

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