Underage Drinking

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More youths die as a result of abusing alcohol than from abusing all illegal drugs combined, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The United States Attorney General reports that approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die every year as a result of underage drinking, including about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides and 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries, such as falls.

DA Sullivan has been aggressive in addressing underage drinking, vowing to prosecute to the fullest extent those who supply youths under 21 with alcohol. Along with Deputy District Attorney Janice Healy and Juvenile Justice Unit Chief Yvonne Pesce, DA Sullivan has visited area high schools to talk with students and parents about the risks of underage drinking and the Massachusetts laws that hold legally responsible "social hosts" who supply underage drinkers with alcohol.

The NWDA has produced a video on the risks and consequences of underage drinking with the help of Greenfield Community Television that has been shown to incoming University of Massachusetts freshmen .

For the past three years, the NWDA has hosted a conference for youths addressing underage drinking and one in  2012 for area college student leaders on changing the culture of underage and destructive drinking on campuses.

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Explanation of Massachusetts laws and penalties with respect to underage drinking and/or driving and social host liability

The legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21 years of age.

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Purchasing Alcohol

For persons under 21 years of age:

A person over 21 years of age may not buy alcohol for a person under 21 years of age, unless their relationship is that of parent and child or husband and wife, and even in those situations liquor must be bought at a package liquor store, not a restaurant or tavern. Violation of this section may result in a fine of $2,000, imprisonment up to 6 months, or both. M.G.L.c.138, Sec. 34.

By persons under 21 years of age:

Alcohol may not be purchased or attempted to be purchased by a person under 21 years of age. A person may not lie about his/her age to purchase alcohol, present false identification, or make arrangements with someone older to buy alcohol for him / her. Violation of this section may result in a fine of $300. M.G.L.c.138,  Sec.34A

Liquor purchasing ID cards:

Any person who transfers, alters, or defaces any such card, or who makes, uses, carries, sells, or distributes a false identification card, or furnishes false information in obtaining such a card, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Such persons are subject to immediate arrest. M.G.L. c. 138, Sec.34B.

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Serving Alcohol

To persons under 21 years of age:

Any person without a license to serve alcohol may not serve someone under 21 years of age, unless their relationship is that of parent and child or husband and wife. Violation of this section may result in a fine of $2000, 6 months imprisonment, or both. M.G.L.c.138, Sec.34.

Social Host Liability

Under Massachusetts law, a host of a party may be held liable for the injuries suffered by others if the host knew or should have known that a guest was drunk and nevertheless gave/permitted the guest to take an alcoholic drink and thereafter, because of the guest’s intoxication, the guest negligently caused injury to others. If the guest who causes an injury is a minor, the host who served the alcohol or permitted alcohol to be served to the minor might be held liable to others even if the minor was already intoxicated when the minor was served alcohol.

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Alcohol and Driving

Transportation of Alcohol

It is unlawful for a person under 21 years of age knowingly to drive a car with alcohol in it unless accompanied by a parent. To do so may result in a fine of up to fifty dollars or suspension of the driver’s license for three months, or both. May be arrested immediately without a warrant. M.G.L.c.138,Sec.34C

Drinking and Driving

Persons may not drive while drinking from an open container of an alcoholic beverage. To do so may result in a fine for not more than $500. M.G.L.c.90, Sec.241.

Driving while under the Influence of Alcohol

Persons may not drive while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment of up to two years, or both. If a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe a person is driving under the influence, a breathalyzer test may be given. The driver has the right to refuse to take the test, but this will result in automatic loss of license for a period of 120 days. M..G.L.c.90, Sec.24(1).

Conviction for a first violation of this section results in a license for at least 45 days (180 days for offenders under the age of 21) and either a fine or imprisonment or probation and assignment to an alcohol education program. Conviction of a second violation means loss of license for at least one year, a fine and a minimum of 14 days in jail, or two years of probation and a minimum of 14 days confinement in a residential alcohol treatment program. May be arrested immediately without warrant. M.G.L.c.90, Sec.24D.

Vehicular Homicide

Anyone who operates a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating substance and who operates that vehicle recklessly or negligently so as to endanger and who, by any such operation causes death of another, is guilty of homicide by motor vehicle and shall be punished by imprisonment at the state prison for not less than 2 -1/2 years, a fine of not more than $5,000 and revocation of driver’s license for 10 years. May be arrested immediately without a warrant. M.G.L.c.90, Sec.24G.

Causing Serious Bodily Injury due to Drunk Driving

Anyone who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating substance and who operates the vehicle recklessly or negligently so as to endanger and who, by any such operation, causes serious bodily injury to another shall be punished by imprisonment at the state prison for not less than 2-1/2 years, a fine of not more than $5,000 and revocation of driver’s license for 2 years. May be arrested immediately without a warrant. M.G.L.c90, Sec.24L.