When a 16-year-old boy was found dead on a front porch in Haverhill, Ma., last year, after a drinking party, police charged the mother of the underage party hostess for allowing teenagers to drink in her home, says the Boston Globe. It used to be that adults could be charged criminally only if they had actually given alcohol to underage drinkers. But two years ago, after the death of a teen after an allegedly adult-sanctioned keg party, the law got tougher. Now, adults who merely allow minors to drink in their homes can be charged.
The new law pits prosecutors against parents who think the safest place for teenagers to drink is at home and off the roads. Before, “you could pretty much turn a blind eye to someone else’s child drinking in your home if you didn’t provide the alcohol,” said Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett. “What I’m doing is trying to make people understand that turning a blind eye to alcohol being consumed in your home is no longer a defense.” Blodgett has led the effort to enforce the tougher law, arguing that underage drinking can turn deadly even if teens don’t drink and drive. He has pushed for a bill, backed by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, that would suspend for two years the driver’s license of anyone convicted of allowing minors to drink. The maximum penalties now are one year in prison or a $2,000 fine.