It’s the call every parent hopes to get – the call of a responsible teenager. Imagine this, your teenage child asks to go out with some friends for the night. With the promise of not getting into trouble and being home by 10:00 PM, you agree. Now, it’s 10:15 and your child still isn’t home when the phone rings. As a parent, there is an immediate pit in your stomach but this time it’s simply your child calling for a ride home after they consumed alcohol.
We know that your first reaction when you hear that your child has been illegally consuming alcohol is to be angry. However, take a deep breath and pause for a moment. Rather than driving themselves home or getting into the car with a potentially intoxicated friend, or a stranger, they called you to come and pick them up.
As you arrive at their location, you find them sitting out by the curb waiting with some friends. After an exchange of disapproving glances, they climb into the car and ask if you would drop their intoxicated friends off as well. Before answering, you wonder “Can I get in trouble for having underage intoxicated children in my car?” While we are not experts nor are we licensed attorneys, we have some guidance on this question.
First things first, as long as you, the driver, do not break any traffic laws then there is no reason that a police officer should pull you over in the first place. However, let’s say there was a traffic stop or you had a tail light out and were stopped, as long as you are simply transporting the minors home and you did not provide them with the alcohol, then you should be safe and not be criminally liable. The person that provided the alcohol to the minors and facilitated the illegal behavior could face charges such as Contributing to Minors.
We would like to point out that the minors could be charged with Minor in Consumption or Minor in Possession. However, these charges are significantly better than the alternative of what would happen had they chosen to drive home and been busted for a DWI.
As a parent, friend, or trusted confidant, it’s crucial to express the importance of not participating in any illegal activity such as underage drinking. However, if a teenager does choose to drink, it is important that they drink responsibly and never get behind the wheel of a car.