In all 50 states, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol. But what exactly is the law about providing alcohol to minors, anyway? In California, A law enacted in 2006 provides penalties for parents who allow children to drink. A first violation is a misdemeanor that carries a $350 to $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison; the fine increases to $750 to $1,000 for a second offense. A third offense would bring a felony charge that carries a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in prison1. Furthermore, many localities have enacted laws which carry additional penalties for providing alcohol to minors. For example, Social Host Ordinances (SHO) have been adopted by all cities and unincorporated areas within Ventura County. The SHO allows police officers to fine the host of a party if there is evidence of underage drinking. Fines are usually between $1,000-$2,500.
Additional information and resources
- “New California Law Targets Adults Who Provide Alcohol to Minors” [California Jury Blog]
- “California Alcohol Laws” [California TIPS Alcohol Training]
- Parenting style influences teen drinking patterns, researchers say [LA Times blog]
- Social Host Laws in Ventura County [Ventura County Limits]