Although the weather still feels like winter, spring is almost here. For many Wisconsin students, that means high school or college graduation is just around the corner. If you plan to host a party and serve alcohol, you should know that in some cases, you could be held liable for any alcohol-fueled mayhem caused by your guests once they leave.
In one recent case, a Wisconsin teenager and his parents were heavily fined for hosting a party that involved underage drinking. After the party, three 18-year-old guests were killed in a drunk driving accident. The guest who was driving had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit when he crashed his vehicle into a tree.
The fatal accident occurred last July. Waukesha County prosecutors issued citations to both the teenager and his parents for providing alcohol to guests under age 21. If the guests had been younger than 18, the district attorney said he would have been able and willing to pursue tougher criminal charges.
After abandoning their pursuit of a jury trial, the family recently agreed to pay 6 citations related to the incident of $452.50 each. In all, the fines total more than $2,700, which is a substantial sum for most middle-class families.
The district attorney noted that he wanted to make an example of this family to send the message that providing alcohol to underage individuals is often illegal and always dangerous. He said: "For some adult to make a decision to provide other peoples' kids alcohol is unacceptable. It isn't OK to mix alcohol and youth. It just turns out so badly so often. Eighteen-year-olds don't have the experience behind the wheel to handle even small amounts of alcohol."
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Drinking party that led to fatal crash results in fines for host family," Bruce Vielmetti, Mar. 18, 2013