Alabama has several laws which make it possible – and frequently advisable – to hold accountable those who bear legal culpability for drunk-driving wrecks beyond the drunk driver. For example, those who serve alcohol to minors who cause wrecks can be held accountable, as can restaurants and clubs who serve alcohol to those already intoxicated.
The “Open House Party” Law: Ala.Code §13-11-10.1 provides:
(b) No adult having control of any residence, who has authorized an open house party at the residence and is in attendance at the party, shall allow the open house party to continue if all of the following occur:
(1) Alcoholic beverages or controlled substances are illegally possessed or illegally consumed at the residence by a person under the age of 21.
(2) The adult knows that an alcoholic beverage or controlled substance is in the illegal possession of or is being illegally consumed by a person under the age of 21 at the residence.
(3) The adult fails to take reasonable action to prevent illegal possession or illegal consumption of the alcoholic beverage or controlled substance.
The “Dram Shop” Law: Ala.Code 6-5-71 provides:
(a) Every wife, child, parent, or other person who shall be injured in person, property, or means of support by any intoxicated person or in consequence of the intoxication of any person shall have a right of action against any person who shall, by selling, giving, or otherwise disposing of to another, contrary to the provisions of law, any liquors or beverages, cause the intoxication of such person for all damages actually sustained, as well as exemplary damages.
The “Dram Shop” Law usually creates liability in one of two ways: when establishments licensed by the Alabama ABC Board serve persons who appear intoxicated, and when establishments provide alcohol to minors. Ala. Admin. Code r. 20-X-6-.02 provides:
(4) No ABC Board on-premises licensee, employee or agent thereof shall serve any person alcoholic beverages if such person appears, considering the totality of the circumstances, to be intoxicated.
Ala. Admin. Code r. 20-X-6-.10 provides:
(1) It shall be unlawful for any minor to sell, serve, dispense or consume alcoholic beverages on any licensed premises.
Q. Why should’t I allow teens to drink in my home? At least I can make sure they won’t drink and drive. A. Allowing teens to drink is a very bad idea for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that it’s illegal. If you allow your child and their friends to break the law, and they witness you breaking the law, what kind of message are you sending? It’s also dangerous because alcohol affects teens differently than it does adults. Teens who drink are at greater risk for alcohol overdose, dependency problems, sexual assault and many other health consequences. Finally, there is no way you can guarantee a child will not drive after drinking. Even taking the keys does not mean they have not brought a spare key with them.
Q. My high school son just told me that he’s been invited to a party. He says the parents are letting everyone bring beer. Obviously, he’s not going, but I’m worried that other parents don’t know that alcohol is going to be served. What can I do?
A. Most parents don’t support underage drinking. With that in mind, call the host parent and let them know what your son told you. In most cases, the host parent will be glad to know what the kids are planning and will act appropriately to make sure no one is drinking.
If the host parent indicates that they are planning to allow the teens to drink at the party, you need to report it. Underage drinking is a crime and allowing teens to drink in your home is also illegal.