As reported by Tatiana Pina in the October 27, 2011 edition of the Providence Journal, a Richmond woman has been arrested and charged with social host violations. The woman was arrested and charged with furnishing or procuring alcohol for minors. Over the weekend, a group of about fourteen (14) teenagers were at the woman's home and alcohol was consumed. Apparently when the woman broke up the party, the teenagers then drove away. Four (4) teenagers were then involved in a serious car accident, leaving two (2) of the teenagers critically injured. The woman is a member of the local school committee.
Pursuant to Rhode Island Laws, 3-8-11.1, furnishing or procuring alcohol for minors is defined as:
(a) As used in this section: (1) "furnish" means to provide with, supply, give or purchase; (2) "procure" means to get possession of, obtain by particular care and effort; and (3) "permit" means to give permission for, or approval of, the possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage by any form of conduct, that would cause a reasonable person to believe that permission or approval has been given.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (d) of this section it is unlawful for any person twenty-one (21) years of age or older:
(1) to purchase from any licensee or any employee of a licensee any alcoholic beverage for the sale, delivery, service of or giving away to, any person who has not reached his or her twenty-first (21st) birthday;
(2) to purchase from any licensee or any employee of any licensee any alcoholic beverage with the intent to cause or permit said alcoholic beverage to be sold, or given to any person who has not reached his or her twenty-first (21st) birthday;
(3) to knowingly furnish any alcoholic beverage for the sale, delivery, service of or giving to any person who has not reached his or her twenty-first (21st) birthday;
(4) to procure alcoholic beverages for the sale, delivery, service of or giving to any person who has not reached his or her twenty-first (21st) birthday; or
(5) to otherwise permit the consumption of alcohol by underaged persons in his or her residence or on his or her real property.
The penalties if convicted include:
(a) Any person who violates § 3-8-11.1 and either pleads nolo contendere or is convicted of a first misdemeanor violation shall be punished by a fine of not less than three hundred fifty dollars ($350.00) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) and/or imprisoned for a period not exceeding six (6) months, or both.
(b) Any person who violates § 3-8-11.1 and either pleads nolo contendre or is convicted of a second misdemeanor violation shall be punished by a fine of not less than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) and/or imprisoned for a period not exceeding one year, or both.
(c) Any person who violates § 3-8-11.1 and either pleads nolo contendre or is convicted of a third or subsequent violation shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by a fine not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) and/or imprisonment not exceeding three (3) years. Any person convicted of a second or subsequent offense under of this section shall not have any fine suspended.
In addition to the social host violations, the woman is also charged with failure to render aid. The woman allegedly went to the site of the car accident but left without trying to help the injured teenagers or call for help.
Although the criminal charges are serious, the woman could face additional penalties including municipal ordinance violations and civil penalties if she is sued by the parents of the injured teenagers.
If you or a family member has been charged with a violation of the Rhode Island Social Host Laws, including providing alcohol to minors, please allow Attorney Robert H. Humphrey's reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process. Please contact Attorney Robert H. Humphrey, Esq., at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.