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Justice with Jessica: Underage drinking can break the bank for party hosts

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Posted at 9:53 AM, Jul 01, 2022

DENVER — Americans will likely spend about $1.4 billion on alcohol for the Fourth of July holiday, according to Wallet Hub. In certain cases, excessive drinking at a party could lead to civil liability for the hosts, especially when it comes to minors.

In Colorado, social hosts could have to pay damages if they knowingly serve alcohol to a person under the age of 21 and that results in the minor causing bodily injury to another person or property damage. For example, a minor could drink excessively at a party and then get into a car accident.

“Some of the practical reasons is that we know that minors aren't as equipped to make proper decisions,” said Joyce Akhahenda, a Colorado defense attorney who serves on the Executive Board of the Sam Cary Bar Association. “That's why there's a responsibility for adults when it comes to the behavior of minors. And in regard to the safety risks, you don't want people who are drinking to be driving.”

Justice with Jessica: Underage drinking can break the bank for party hosts

Drinking and driving can be a major problem on the Fourth of July. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 38% of all motor vehicle deaths on Independence Day in 2019 were alcohol-related.

Sharing alcoholic drinks with minors could lead to criminal liability as well.

If someone encourages a minor to do something that would break the law, that person could be charged with “delinquency of a minor,” which can be a felony in some cases.

As multi-generational families gather to enjoy the holiday, it’s important to keep in mind that minors are generally not permitted to drink in Colorado until the age of 21, unless they are in a private place and have consent from their parents.