With the new Social Host Ordinance passed by Hancock County and also in effect in several other surrounding counties, parents and adults hosting parties and events with alcohol being served will be liable for underage teens drunken driving.
If you are planning events involving alcohol, make sure you monitoring who has the spirits and who does not. If you have an underage youth at home, you might want to take a few simple steps to avoid liability.
First, make sure your liquor cabinet is locked or inaccessible. Over 80% of non-party related underage drinking and driving is due to accessible alcohol in the home. Under the new county laws, parents are subject to prosecution even for accessibility. Law enforcement officials we spoke with say that an easy way to monitor this is to lock all cabinets and monitor who your child is with at all times. Even when you are at work and your child is at home, know who is in the house with them.
The second and probably most important is to talk to your kids. 77% of all alcoholics started their addiction to spirits when they were underage teens. Of those 51% are eventually convicted of an alcohol related offense. In Winnebago County, an Operating While Intoxicated Offense can result in $1,250 in civil penalties and fines, costs associated with the prosecution of the case, and then there are substance abuse treatment costs which can sometimes total over $1,000. By talking to kids, parents can help alleviate that problem.