To the People

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Arrested For Letting One's 18 Year-Old Drink at Home, And Other Absurdities of American Life

The US law that increased the drinking age from 18 to 21 by enforcing federal penalties against states that did not comply might be among the worst of the laws that Reagan signed and encouraged. Parents who let their otherwise adult children imbibe in their homes are being increasingly prosecuted, as the long arm of the law only grows longer. A woman accused of allowing her 18-year-old son to drink at her birthday party is the first person to be arrested by the Nassau (NY) county police under a new law.
Karen Dittmer was arrested under the Social Host Law, which was enacted July 17, Nassau County police said Monday.

Dittmer, 45, is accused of allowing her teenage son and several other underage guests to drink beer Sunday evening at a party for the party held in the backyard of her West Hempstead home.
Even worse, in Virginia a mother and father were each sentenced to 27 months in jail for allowing alchohol at a party for their 16 year-old.
In this season of senior proms and graduation parties, the story of the couple is a cautionary tale for parents if they plan to serve alcohol -- or look the other way. It comes at a time of increased concern about the effects of drinking and driving and underage binge drinking, which is on the rise. Although 27-month sentences are rare, parents are increasingly being held criminally responsible for underage drinking under their roofs, even if they are not aware that it is going on...Kelly and Robinson -- the boys' stepfather -- were charged with nine misdemeanor counts each of contributing to the delinquency of a minor resulting from the August 2002 backyard birthday bash. Both were originally sentenced to eight years, but the sentences were reduced to 27 months. The case was appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court and then the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently declined to hear it.
It is appalling that US courts would criminalize what is accepted in most of the world and actually send parents to jail for doing what Europeans do as a matter of course.

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