College students are home from school for the summer and friends are gathering at family homes to hang out and catch up. Beware that if they are congregating at your home and have a drink, unbeknownst to you,  you could be held legally responsible should they leave your home and get into a car accident. As a criminal defense attorney in Ohio, we see this situation often.

Ohio has laws that address the problems associated with alcohol-related negligence. The strictest laws make the “social hosts” responsible in civil and criminal courts. These are the “Social Host Liability” laws. Under these laws, the person or business serving the alcohol to anyone under 21, whether they are aware of it or not, is responsible if the minor served kills or injures someone while under the influence of alcohol served by the “social host”.  If this happens, the most skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney is needed immediately.

In Ohio, you may be arrested for:

  • Drinking, buying, or possessing an alcoholic beverage (even in a closed container) while under 21 years old;
  • Selling or providing an alcoholic beverage to someone under 21 years old; and
  • Using a fake ID to buy, or otherwise obtain, alcoholic beverages.

You may be issued a citation for:

  • Possessing an open container of an alcoholic beverage on public property — no matter your age. Note that “public property” in this context is generally defined broadly. Therefore, areas that are extremely visible, easily accessible, and open to the public — such as porches, stoops, front lawns, etc. — may qualify as “public” spaces.

There are exceptions. In Ohio, under the law, anyone under 21 may drink alcohol if under the supervision of their own parents. The parent must have given consent and physically be there while the alcohol is consumed. This includes any private residence, restaurant, bar, country club, hotel room, banquet center, etc. If the parents are with their child, this is legal. If a parent has their child and the child’s friend – the friend is excluded as that child would need his/her parent physically there as well.

The Bottom Line: If you are a parent who lets their college student drink at home during the Summer with his friends it can get you into a lot of trouble. If their parents are not at your home with them, you will be responsible for permitting the drinking and any trouble that may occur later on while under the influence. The best solution if you think there might be drinking in your home, is to take the keys away from all drivers. Call taxis, or let the child sleep over. Kids make mistakes.  They don’t have the wisdom or emotional maturity to make good decisions all the time. Despite good parenting, mistakes happen that lead to charges being filed. Good kids make bad decisions all the time and if you are a parent and find yourself in this situation the best thing to do is reach out to a criminal defense attorney, immediately. An allegation of a juvenile crime can have a devastating effect on your child’s reputation, livelihood, and overall well-being.

Call me: 513.260.2099