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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Warning – You Can Go To Jail If You Supply Minors Alcohol

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One of the most heart-wrenching stories of 2011 in Mid-Michigan is the deaths of three teenagers in an auto accident following a keg party hosted by three 21-year-olds in January. The tragic, single-vehicle car crash also left two injured. In the wake of the accident, law enforcement and prosecutors have focused an intense spotlight on irresponsible partying and providing alcohol to social guests.

On Thursday, Judge Donald Allen handed down the sentences for the three keg providers, who pleaded guilty in April. Each will serve at least 90 days in jail, followed by two years of probation. In addition, they will be required to perform 30 days of community service and pay nearly $2000 in fines and costs. The sentence comes in spite of the families of two of the victims requesting the hosts receive no jail time.

The message is loud and clear: if you serve minors alcohol, you could go to jail. Party hosts need to take responsibility for their guests’ actions and closely monitor who has access to alcohol and how much they consume. If one of your guests injures someone else or is later involved in a drunk-driving collision, you may be held accountable in court. The renewed emphasis on these obligations should give potential party planners pause. Are you sure you want to have a keg? How many people are you going to invite? Do you have a plan for guests who are too drunk to safely drive home?

While the three young victims can never be replaced, hopefully this awful incident will ultimately have some measure of positive outcome. With the community now acutely aware of the dangers of irresponsible drinking, the roads should become safer as these behaviors are reined in.