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Can I serve alcohol at my child's prom or graduation party?

Whether your child was at the top of the class or barely squeaked through, you may be as proud and excited as he or she is to be nearing the end of senior year. There are many celebrations ahead, including prom and graduation, and you look forward to celebrating with your teen.

As a gift or reward to your child, you may be planning a party for after prom or graduation. You may recall your own senior festivities. Perhaps your parents threw a party for you and your friends, or you went to another student's house where an elaborate bash was going on. You may want to be that cool parent who throws the best after-party, but be aware of the risks involved if you plan to offer alcohol.

The party's over

You certainly know that it is a crime to sell or serve alcohol to minors in a liquor store or restaurant. You may also be aware that in the privacy of your Colorado home, you may serve your own child alcohol as long as you are present. Several other states also allow this exception. However, this condition does not extend to your child's friends. Even if the other parents know there will be alcohol at your party, the law says you may not serve anyone but your own child.

Additionally, you do not have to physically serve drinks to your underage guests to violate the law. Having alcohol available, allowing minors to bring their own alcohol or failing to supervise so the teens have the opportunity to sneak in alcohol may also leave you culpable. Some of the consequences you may face include the following:

  • Criminal charges that may include supplying alcohol to a minor or contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which may be misdemeanors or felonies
  • Jail time if convicted and depending on the circumstances
  • Fines and court costs, which can reach thousands of dollars
  • Probation, if convicted, which may include community service
  • Damage to your personal and professional reputation
  • The potential for jeopardizing your job if the court convicts you
  • Additional legal trouble if a party guest is injured on your property or on the drive home because of alcohol consumption

You may take every precaution to offer a celebration where your child and his or her guests are safe, but you may not be able to control every circumstance. If you face criminal charges related to a party with underage guests, you would be wise to seek legal counsel at the earliest possible moment.

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