When it comes to underage drinking, the law is clear. If you are 21 years old, you may consume alcohol. If you are not, you may not. If you have a party, you may not provide, give or allow any of your guests who are under 21 to possess alcohol. As a parent you may be tempted to allow your son or daughter to have some friends over to drink especially during prom and graduation season. You may think that by collecting the car keys, you can control it and that they will be safe. Not only is that against the law, it is not safe.
M.G.L. Chapter 138 section 34
"whoever furnishes any such beverage or alcohol for a person under 21 years of age shall be punished by a fine of not more than $2,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year or both. For the purpose of this section the word “furnish” shall mean to knowingly or intentionally supply, give, or provide to or allow a person under 21 years of age except for the children and grandchildren of the person being charged to possess alcoholic beverages on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged."
Social Host Law: Information for Parents file size 1MB
An informative brochure that summarizes the social host law as well as the potential civil liability for allowing minors access to alcohol in your home. The brochure was developed collaboratively by the Essex District Attorney's Office, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, Executive Office of Public Safety and Security and Attorney Richard Campbell. You may download it or order copies here.
Dr. John Knight is the founder and director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR) at Children's Hospital Boston and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He has developed an online resource for parents on dealing with teen alcohol and drug use.