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Ring in the new year legally

Ring in the New Year legally

Parents can use approaching New Year's Eve celebrations as a way to discuss underage drinking with children.

Many parents are already talking with their kids about this important issue. According to the Kansas Communities That Care Student Survey, 54% of Johnson County students surveyed (in grades 6,8,10, and 12) report having a conversation with their parents about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco or drug use in the past year and 86 percent of the students said their families have clear rules about alcohol and drug use.

Underage drinking can have legal repercussions for your child with punishments ranging from fines to required classes on drug and alcohol abuse to community service to loss of driving privileges. 

However, teens may feel invincible and above these ramifications. Of all of the 12th graders surveyed, 62 percent said they would not be caught by their parents if they drank alcohol. And of those Johnson County students who drank during the past 30 days, 88 percent reported drinking at their home or at a friend's home.

If you permit underage persons to have alcoholic beverages of any kind at your home, on your land, or at a procured venue, you could be in violation of the law. Hosting or assisting in the distribution of alcohol to minors are serious offenses and can have dire consequences to those minors and/or innocent citizens. The Johnson County District Attorney's office takes these cases very seriously.

Social hosting can result in a sentence of up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 (not including court costs and other fees), and/or an alcohol or drug education program. Providing alcohol to minors can result in a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of $200. The Kansas statues pertaining to social hosting and providing alcohol to minors can be found here.

Take the time to talk with your kids about underage drinking, consider what it can mean for your family if you decide to provide alcohol to minors, and stay safe in 2015.