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About the Social Host Law in Massachusetts

The Social Host Law FAQs

Remember:  A Social Host is anyone (adult or minor) who is in control of the premises and who furnishes alcohol or allows it to be consumed on those premises.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I breaking the law if I allow my child’s underage guests to consume alcohol in my home?

Yes. The legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21.  It is against the law to serve or provide alcohol to underage guests or to allow them to drink alcohol in your home or on other property you control. If you do, you may be prosecuted criminally. The penalty is a fine of up to $2,000, imprisonment for up to a year, or both.  M.G.L. c.138, s. 34.

Can I be sued if my child or an underage guest at my home drinks alcohol and injures someone?
Yes. You may be financially responsible if your child or underage guest injures another person (or himself) after having consumed alcohol, if you controlled the supply of the alcohol, made it available, or served it.  Civil judgement can be for millions of dollars.
What if my child allows underage guests to drink or possess alcohol at my home or other property I control, without my knowledge?
You or your child may be charged criminally. For you to be found guilty under the Social Host Law, the Commonwealth must provide that you or your child knowingly or intentionally supplied, gave, provided, or allowed minors to possess alcohol at your home or other property you controlled.  You or your child may also be sued civilly.
Does the Social Host Law apply to marijuana in Massachusetts?
Right now, Bill SD.2211 is currently pending approval in the Senate.  If approved, marijuana would fall under the Social Host law:

“Whoever makes a sale or delivery of marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana
accessories, to any person under 21 years of age, either for his own use or for the use of his parent or any other person, or whoever furnishes any such marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories, for a person under 21 years of age shall be punished by a fine of not more than $2,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year or both. For the purpose of this section the word “furnish” shall mean to knowingly or intentionally supply, give, or provide to or allow a person under 21 years of age except for the children and grandchildren of the person being charged to possess marijuana, marijuana products, or marijuana accessories on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged.” 

Does the Social Host Law apply if I rent a hotel room for my child’s party?
Yes, since you control the hotel room, the Social Host Law applies.  M.G.L. c.138, s. 34.
Will my homeowners policy cover the costs of litigation and any judgement against me or my child?
You may or may not be covered, especially if the underage drinker causes injury or death by use of an automobile.  Many insurance policies do not cover situations where criminal conduct is involved.

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