Students/Parents face liability for underage drinking  

For Immediate Release:   April 14, 2008

Contact: Melissa Pryor-Reed

    Prom season is near and is filled with the typical questions: what dress to wear,
what to drive and where to buy flowers. For many teenagers, other questions also are
considered: what party to attend, and unfortunately, where to buy alcohol.

   “Providing alcohol to those under age 21 is illegal in Kentucky,” Kenton County
Attorney Garry Edmondson said. “There are both criminal and civil ramifications for
doing so.”

For Property Owners

    For those planning a party at their home, a look at Kentucky law may prove to be
helpful. In Kentucky, property owners can be held liable even if they do not know
teenagers are drinking on their property. They could be charged with unlawful transaction
with a minor in the third degree (KRS 530.070), which carries a penalty of class A
misdemeanor: a $500 fine and/or one year in jail.

    This happens quite often when parents throw parties for their teenage children in
celebration of sports victories, graduation, prom or other milestones. Some parents
knowingly provide alcohol to minors; others may be a little more naïve.

   “What many people don’t know is that the parents can be charged with a criminal
offense if they knew or even should have known about alcohol consumption that occurred
on their property,” Edmondson said. “In other words, the parents do not even have to play
an active role in providing the alcohol. If the alcohol is available on their property and
they at least should have known about it, then the parents are liable.”

    Criminal penalties for these offenses include fines of up to $250 and jail time up
to 90 days for a first offense. Subsequent offenses increase the fines up to $500 and jail
time up to one year.

     If someone is injured as a result of minors drinking on the property, parents are
subject to severe civil penalties in addition to the criminal offense, Edmondson said.

For Businesses

    Some teenagers may attempt to purchase alcohol at a liquor store, restaurant or
bar on prom night.

    Edmondson warned business owners to refrain from serving alcohol to minors.
“Those that knowingly sell alcohol to minors can be charged with a violation of
KRS 244.080, which carries a fine of $250 for the first offense. Second or subsequent
offenses would be class A misdemeanors, which carry $500 fines,” Edmondson said.

   “This would be in addition to the revocation of the business’s liquor license.”
In addition, Kentucky law stipulates that a business owner can be held liable for
injuries and damage caused by an intoxicated patron if a reasonable person could
determine the patron, regardless of age, was already intoxicated at the time of serving.
This applies to actions taken by the patron after leaving the establishment, such as driving

For minors attempting to purchase alcohol

    Kentucky law also prohibits minors from using fake identifications to purchase
alcohol. The use of a fake ID to purchase alcohol is a violation for the first offense,
punishable by a fine of $250. Any subsequent offense is a Class A misdemeanor
(punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and a fine of up to $500). In addition, it is
illegal to have another person purchase alcohol for a minor, which is considered a
violation and punishable by a $250 fine. If an adult purchases, sells or gives alcohol to a
minor, it is a Class A misdemeanor.

    Edmondson said Kentucky’s laws regarding alcohol sales to minors are intended
to save lives.

    “Imagine if someone gave your child alcohol, and he or she got drunk, and then
got injured or even killed,” Edmondson said. “This law was not created just to keep kids
from drinking. It was created also to save lives and heartache.”