Gaps in the Laws in the State of Georgia
Regarding Social Host
Question – Don’t our current state statutes and laws address this problem?
Answer – No. There is a large gap in our current state laws that do not address the situation of a parent or supervising adult knowing even allowing a party of minors who have access to and consume alcohol. The following are the statutes that could come closest to addressing the problem of “Social Hosting” and a description of how they do not address the problem:
- A person commits the offense of “Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor” (O.C.G.A. §16-12-1) when they cause or encourage a minor to commit a delinquent act (like drinking alcohol). However, that statute creates no liability if, for example, a parent/adult simply knows or reasonably should know that their house is going to be used by a group of minors to have a party and drink alcohol. Also, “minor”, is defined in this statute as anyone under the age of 17. If the individuals drinking are between 17 and 21, there is no criminal liability under this statute.
- A person commits the offense of “Furnishing Alcoholic Beverages to a Minor” (O.C.G.A. §3-3-23) when they furnish, cause to be furnished or permit any person in their employ to furnish alcohol to a minor. So long as the parent/adult doesn’t directly furnish or cause to be furnished any alcohol to the minors, they have no liability for minors drinking in their home even if they know it’s happening.
- A person commits the offense of “Maintaining a Disorderly House” (O.C.G.A. §16-11-44) when the person maintains a house or establishment that is regularly used for drinking and gambling. However the statute does not apply if there is only an occasional alcohol party at the house.
- A person who causes bodily harm to or endangers the bodily safety of another person by consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his act or omission will cause harm or endanger the safety of the other person is guilty of “reckless conduct” (O.C.G.A. 16-5-60a). This statute requires either actual bodily harm or clearly endangering the bodily safety of another. Simply allowing underage drinking would not satisfy this requirement.
Under the current laws, a parent has no responsibility to prevent minors from drinking alcohol in their home and may even allow the drinking parties so long as they don’t furnish the alcohol and don’t get involved in organizing the party. And they could do so with no potential liability or responsibility.