Underage drinking remains a problem during the pandemic, but a new story has shone a light on some penalties parents may not be aware of. At the beginning of November, a couple from Lancaster County was charged with multiple felony counts for allowing their children to host parties that involved underage drinking in and around their home. Underage drinking is taken very seriously in Pennsylvania and it is important that parents understand the penalties for those convicted do not only apply to their children.
Can Parents Give Children Permission to Drink?
Parents have a lot of authority in Pennsylvania to give their children permission to do many things. Even parents, though, cannot give permission for underage drinking. In the state, it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to consume, purchase, and in most cases, to sell alcohol. There are no exceptions under the law and any adult that gives alcohol to a minor, regardless of their relationship to that child, can face charges.
Penalties for Parents that Allow Children to Drink
The fines parents will face for allowing their minor children to consume alcohol are often decided on a case-by-case basis. In Lancaster County, the region in which the most recent story occurred, the fines can reach as high as $1,000 for a first violation. Every subsequent violation in that county carries a fine of $2,500. Due to the fact that the couple in the recent story held several parties with many underage children, they could potentially face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
Although the fines are high for parents that allow minors to consume alcohol, there are even harsher penalties adults may face. Some of the charges adults may face include the corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children. In the recent story, endangering the welfare of children is just one of the charges the couple is facing. If convicted, each parent may face a maximum of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine for that charge alone. A conviction for the corruption of minors carries the same penalties.
Criminal penalties are not the only consequences parents may have to contend with if they allow minors to drink. If a minor is allowed to drink and becomes hurt or hurts someone else, such as if they drive impaired afterwards and cause an accident, the individuals injured or their parents can file a civil lawsuit against the parents that allowed the consumption of alcohol. If the plaintiff is successful with that lawsuit, parents may face even more liability and have to pay thousands of dollars.
Facing Charges? Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers can Help
Allowing your child to share in your beer or wine may seem innocent enough, but it is a criminal offense Pennsylvania law takes very seriously. If you have been charged with allowing any minor to consume alcohol, it is imperative that you call our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers today. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, we know that not everyone charged is guilty, and will provide you with the defense your case needs. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and receive the legal advice you need.