Social Host Liability

social-host-liabilityThe Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office offers presentations to students and their parents on Social Host Liability.  For more information, please email our office at:

The greatest influence on young people’s decisions to begin drinking is the world they live in, which includes their families, friends, schools, the larger community, and society as a whole.

Unfortunately, some parents take the following approach…The kids are going to drink anyway so why don’t we provide a place in our home for them where they can be supervised?”

While parents who adopt this approach think that they will be able to supervise a teenage party with alcohol, they cannot predict situations that  may develop if a minor has been drinking in their home.  This approach may subject both parent and child to criminal penalties and civil liability.  If teenage alcohol consumption has taken place at a supervised party, and the teenagers  have left the home, the “social host’s”  responsibility does not end.

Civil Liability

Civil liability involves a lawsuit by a private party (the injured or estate of a deceased person) seeking monetary compensation for injuries suffered due to underage drinking on a social host’s property or premises he/she controls.

Civil actions address private rights.

  • An aggrieved person may seek to recover monetary damages as compensation for injuries caused by another. A person injured as a result of underage drinking may attempt to hold a social host responsible for his injuries.
  • The injured person may claim that the negligence of the host caused his injuries. In states with a social host law, like Massachusetts, a violation of the law may be some evidence to establish negligence and civil responsibility.
  • Civil actions involving catastrophic injury or death can result in large judgments.   A jury in Massachusetts has assessed more than $8 million in damages against the intoxicated underage driver of an automobile, and the liquor store that sold the beer that the driver consumed.

Criminal Liability


  • MGL Chapter 119 § 63 – Contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
    Penalty: Maximum 1 year in jail and/or $500 fine.
  • MGL Chapter 138 § 34 – Sale, delivery, furnishing alcohol to person under 21 years old.
    Penalty: Maximum 1 year in jail and/or $2,000 fine.


  • MGL Chapter 138 § 34A-  Minors: purchase or attempt to purchase alcoholic beverage
    Penalty:  $300.00 fine, License suspended for 180 days.
  • MGL Chapter 138 § 34C-  Minor in possession/transports/carries alcoholic beverages.
    Penalty:  First offense:  Maximum $50 fine
    Second and subsequent offense:  Maximum $150 fine, License suspended for 90 days.

Minors Operating Under the Influence (OUI):

  • MGL Chapter 90 § 24- Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol. (OUI)
    Penalty: Ranges from first offense/alcohol program and license suspension up to 5 years in prison for a 5th offense.
    *  Under 21 – Refusal or a BT of .02 or greater.  Immediate 180 day license loss.
    *  Age 18-21 – 1st offense with BAC .20 or greater.  14 Day Inpatient Program REQUIRED

Minors causing injury or death:

  • MGL Chapter 90 § 24G – OUI motor vehicle homicide
    Penalty:  Up to 15 years in prison, 1 year mandatory, and up to $5,000 fine.  15 year license suspension for first offense.
  • MGL Chapter 90 § 24L –  OUI serious bodily injury
    Penalty:  Up to 10 years in prison and up to $5,000 fine.  2 year license loss.
  • MGL Chapter 265 § 13½ – Manslaughter by motor vehicle
    Penalty:  Up to 20 years in prison, 5 years mandatory jail sentence. Up to $25,000 fine. License loss 15 years to life.