In June of 2010, our Client was charged with a violation of the Town of Middletown Ordinance entitled "Possession, Consumption by Minors Prohibited." Specifically, Section 130.01(B)(1) describes social host offenses and states, "it shall be unlawful for any person who owns or exercises control over private real property, to allow another person under the age of twenty-one (21) years of age who is not his/her child or minor ward to possess or consume alcoholic beverages on the property."
Section 130.01(B)(2) of the Town of Middletown Ordinance states the following regarding the penalties: "any person found in violation of this section shall be subject to a $350.00 fine and/or mandatory completion of an alcohol awareness program approved by the Middletown Municipal Court,...any person who commits a second violation within a twelve (12) month period shall be subject to a $750.00 fine and mandatory completion of an alcohol awareness program approved by the Town of Middletown Substance Abuse Task Force,...The person shall also be responsible to pay for the cost of said program in the amount of $350.00."
The incident which gave rise to the charge against our Client was the response of the Police to a noise disturbance. Upon their arrival at our Client's property, the Police found thirteen (13) teenagers, of which ten (10) teenagers admitted to consuming alcohol and the property owner's son and two (2) other teenagers denied drinking any alcohol.
In September of 2010 the social host offense against our client was dismissed based on our argument that the Town could not prove that he was aware of the consumption of alcohol on his property.If you or a family member have been charged with a violation of the Rhode Island Social Host Laws, we can help you. For more information regarding the civil and criminal liability of adults who furnish or procure alcohol for underage persons or for information regarding the penalties imposed against underage persons who possess or transport alcohol please see my Social Host Liability article which was recently published in the Rhode Island Bar Journal.