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weeveeship's avatar

Can my young cousin get in trouble for being at a party that involves alcohol?

Asked by weeveeship (3962 points ) September 30th, 2010

My cousin is a freshman in college. He just turned 19. In our state, you must be 21 to purchase alcohol.

This one club at my cousin’s school is hosting a party next Saturday. Most, if not all, of the club members are at least 21 years old. Alcohol would be provided at the party, though there would be activities other than drinking available (e.g. watching a movie, eating, socializing). My cousin does not plan to drink but he wants to get to know the other members of the club better.

My cousin just met them and have no idea how they would act in a party. In the event that the neighbors call the cops (for nuisance, etc) and the cops arrive, can my cousin get in trouble for being in a party that involves alcohol even if he did not drink one drop of it?

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12 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

As long as he doesn’t serve any alcohol, and is not drinking he should be fine.

woodcutter's avatar

yes he can…easily

MissAusten's avatar

I don’t know about the laws in your cousin’s particular area, but when I was in college and a party got busted, only people who’d been drinking illegally or serving alcohol to underage drinkers got into any trouble. The cops would stand at the door and we’d all file past. If you had ID to show you were 21, you could simply leave. Or stand in the yard to watch the show! If you were under 21, you had to take a breathalizer test. If you passed, you could leave. If you failed, you got a ticket for underage drinking. If the cops found underage drinkers, the people who lived in the house were ticketed for providing the alcohol.

citizenearth's avatar

To be safe, your cousin better don’t go to the party. He could land in trouble for nothing or something (if he drinks alcohol).

lillycoyote's avatar

Probably not, but as @citizenearth says, it might be better if he doesn’t go, just to be absolutely sure. If the cops come in while he has a beer or something in his hand, even if just moving it so he can sit down or something, it won’t matter if he’s actually been drinking or not. Depending on the laws of the municipality, county or state he’s in, he could be charged with underage possession. But he will probably be o.k.

sliceswiththings's avatar

Nah go to the party. Getting to know people is totally worth the risk. The cops can check your cousin’s Blood Alcohol Content and see that he hasn’t been drinking. If the cops seem to have shown up, the underage kids can always sneak out the back or all go in the movie-watching room. Don’t skip the party just for that. He’d also probably just get a warning if it’s a first offense.

I was in a room with alcohol while underage in college, and although there was no legal action taken, we got disciplinary action from the school. All it was is that we were on “disciplinary warning” for the rest of the semester. Nothing at all.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

There are certainly ways he could get in trouble by going to the party, say if someone spikes his drink or spikes the punchbowl, for example, or offers him a drink that he believes to be free of alcohol, and isn’t.

But you can’t live your life worrying about all of the “might happens”, either. If he’s determined not to drink and takes reasonable precautions (such as not taking drinks from strangers, and minding the drink he does have, etc.) then he should be able to enjoy himself safely and legally.

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kissmesoftly's avatar

College parties often involve not only alcohol, but also drugs. Just being in the same place as drug users can get your cousin in a lot of trouble.

weeveeship's avatar

@kissmesoftly And is this true even if my cousin doesn’t take the drugs?
e.g. Some senior dude smokes pot at the party but my cousin doesn’t. Can my cousin get in trouble for this?

In terms of jurisdiction, my cousin lives and goes to school in Washington state.

kissmesoftly's avatar

@weeveeship Yes, it is true. You can get arrested by being around people who have drugs on them or are using them at the time. I’m not sure if it is a felony. I think it depends on the drug in question, and how much of it and what was going on. It’s why I steer clear of parties with drugs and alcohol (I’m a college student), because I can get into a lot of trouble even if I’m not doing anything illegal.

mollysmithee's avatar

If your cousin drinks, he can get a minor in possession. But if he does not, the only people that can really get in trouble are the hosts of the party if they offer or provide alcohol to underage party-goers. This article discusses providing alcohol to: minors. http://www.criminallawyerbocaraton.com/articles/providing-alcohol-to-minors/
So, it is definitely in their best interest to try to keep taps on underage people attending, but they do not legally have to.

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