When your children get into high school, the chance of their attending a party where alcohol can be found increases exponentially. This is something that all parents should discuss with their kids, to prevent poor decisions and potentially catastrophic consequences. And for those who are considering hosting teen gatherings, be forewarned--adults who own the home where such parties occur could be criminally liable.
In Maryland, the law states that you cannot give alcohol to a person under 21 if you know he/she is under 21 and you know he/she is going to drink it. In addition, you cannot knowingly allow a person under the age of 21 to possess or drink alcohol in your house/apartment/cond0.
There are two exceptions to these prohibitions. If both parties (the adult and the person under 21) are members of the same immediate family and the alcohol is possessed or consumed in a private residence or if both parties are participants in a religious ceremony, then the above laws do not apply.
The penalty for breaking those laws is to have a misdemeanor conviction on your record and pay a fine up to $2,500 for the first offense and $5,000 for any subsequent offenses. Frankly, the more serious liability occurs if someone is injured or killed because you gave a minor alcohol. If a child leaves a party at your house after drinking there and gets into an accident, you are going to get sued. And your homeowners insurance may not cover you. The consequences could be financially devastating.
If you have any questions about these issues, please feel free to call me at (410) 828-5500.