Articles Posted in underage drinking

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In most places, poverty is a risk factor for substance abuse among teenagers, according to national statistics. Orange County, however, is an exception, with the county Health Care Agency finding that teen drug, alcohol, and tobacco use is highest in affluent coastal communities, reported the Orange County Register.

Laguna Beach teens reported some of the highest rates of substance use in the county: 23.8% smoking, 47.7% drinking, and, more than anywhere else, 29.8% drug use. High school students in the wealthy beachside community are three times as likely to smoke as teens in Santa Ana. Last January, the Register reported that two girls were caught smoking heroin in the bathroom at Laguna Beach High School.

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Recently, a California mother and her 20-year-old daughter were arrested on misdemeanor charges after providing alcohol to a 19-year-old at a birthday party. The intoxicated teen left the party and was involved in a fatal car accident.

“When adults furnish alcohol to minors and an accident causing injury or death results, the adults may face criminal charges from the state and civil actions from the victims and their families,” explained California car accident lawyer James Ballidis.

In California, providing alcohol to someone under the age of 21 can result in criminal charges. This is true whether you are a bar owner selling alcohol, a person asked to buy alcohol for someone under 21, or a parent who gives alcohol to your teenager’s friends. While there are certain limited exceptions, such as allowances for people who provide alcohol to children for religious reasons, the laws in California are clear that if you provide alcohol to a minor, there are consequences.

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California Civil Code Section 1714 imposes liability on people who cause injury as a result of the lack of “ordinary care” in managing their property or person. While 1714(c) limits owner liability for injuries that occur as a result of serving alcohol in their homes, section 1714(d) makes clear that this exception does not apply to parents or adults who allow or encourage minors to consume alcohol in their homes. Because of the provisions found in 1714, the current law in California imposes civil liability on a parent who allows his or her teen children and/or their friends to drink in the home. This means if an injury or death results from the drinking that the parents allowed or were involved in, the parents may be sued in civil court for damages and charged with a misdemeanor as a result, explains a lawyer in Orange County.

Despite these penalties, some in California believe more should be done to prevent underage drinking. The Laguna Beach City Counsel recently tried to pass such an ordinance. The new ordinance-dubbed a “social host ordinance”-would hold parents responsible for any underage drinking that occurs in their homes. Adults would be subject to a variety of penalties based on the nature of their offense, including fines when underage drinking takes place even if the parents are not present, according to the Coastline Pilot.

While the City Counsel outlined in their agenda a number of reasons why they believe that this ordinance should be passed, there are many who strenuously object to the new ordinance. In fact, Laguna Beach High School students have joined together to fight against the ordinance and have created a Facebook page to serve as a forum on the issue.

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