Several years ago when I started working at a local convenience store I had to attend a special class so that I could obtain a liquor license -not the same as one who owns the establishment, but one who works a the establishment and sells alcohol for the owner. We went over the laws of who is and who is not legal to buy alcoholic beverages, and even which ones could be sold when. Did you know that wine coolers are classified as hard liquor? I didn’t then.
We weren’t allowed to sell to those who were already showing signs of being inebriated or we could be charged if they got into an accident. It’s the same law that says bartenders aren’t allowed to serve those they know are drunk or they are liable for any trouble they get into as much as the drunk. I turned down more than one person for coming in already under the influence-to much swearing on the part of the would-be customer. Luckily my boss was on my side.
However there was one law that absolutely flabbergasted me. It said that in a restaurant or bar situation where minors are not allowed under normal circumstances to even enter (or order in the case of an alcohol serving restaurant) if they are accompanied by a parent (or a spouse over 21 if they are under age) can drink alcoholic beverages at the discretion of the restaurant/bar policies. Most of them here don’t care who it is as long as they get paid. They aren’t going to turn down serving a minor if their parent(s) order it for them. Now I am the first to say that parents are already overly regulated. They can’t use any sort of useful discipline to steer their children in the right direction to becoming responsible, productive adults or be charged with some sort of abuse, but this is definitely a case of ‘if they aren’t going to use common sense then someone has to.’
I lost count of how many graduation parties ended with the graduates so drunk they couldn’t stand or worse, they wandered off the property into traffic or got into some other sort of trouble. Our pastor had his mailbox stolen by a drunken fifteen year old boy at a graduation party at the house next door. Here, next door isn’t that close! He tried to do something about it but the entire crowd was ‘wasted’. Some parties have them stay overnight in tents, but most of the time they just hope for the best and send them home. My son opted not to have a graduation party because he was afraid no one would come when we told him he could have one, but there would be no alcohol. My youngest just wants the party. He figures his real friends will come.
However, that being said, there are still those who partake when allowed, and a few too many are allowed. Just last night a boy only eighteen by weeks, was taken to a bar by his mother. When they got ready to leave, she handed him the keys and his blood alcohol level was way above the legal limit even if he had been of legal age. How drunk must she have been to have handed him the keys? Today they are both in separate hospitals. He is charged with driving under the influence and she got nothing (so far). He also was driving on suspended license thanks to his lead foot. (In Wisconsin too many speeding tickets for a minor means no license.) She’ll probably be fine if she can live with her self. He had to be air lifted to a hospital in Minnesota. Their car hit a guard railing and flipped over. The car was crushed in such a way that when it landed the boy was partially ejected and the culvert it hit severed his arm completely. As it was well after dark of course and by the time the severed limb was recovered, it was too late to re-attach it. He is in my son’s senior class at high school.
I have a question. Shouldn’t his mother be charged with something? After all, she got him drunk. All she had to do is set a good example and not take him to the bar. She could have stopped him before he got in that shape. She could have not let him drive. She could have stayed sober herself. She could have made arrangements for a hotel room. They were over an hour from home so a hotel would have been a good idea. She could have gotten an adult for a drinking buddy rather than her son who is still in high school. She could have done a lot of things.
The state could step up to the plate and say it doesn’t matter if the parent(s) buy it for them, under age is under age. (I suppose it doesn’t count if you are at home since supposedly the government can’t regulate what you do in your own home.)
There are some good groups that have caught a bad rap on occasion that should be praised for their efforts. One is MADD: Mothers Against Drunk Driving where there is a grass roots effort to stop under age drinking by mothers. The organization was started by mothers who lost their children either to children who were drinking, hit by other children who were drinking, or by some other person who had been drinking. Another is SADD: Students Against Destructive Decisions. They take the MADD message directly to the kids in a peer situation where the kids are more likely to listen. It is positive peer pressure. The two groups and others like them have started traditions of graduation parties without alcohol, known as Project Graduation in many areas. These organizations have been world wide for many years, but until every parent gets the message, there is still much work to do.
If enough parents get the point and stop condoning and start complaining (to their legislators) maybe laws such as the one in Wisconsin (and probably many others states if one checks) where under the ‘right’ circumstances a minor is allowed to be served alcohol (I’m not talking church ceremonies here) will be changed. After all, children under a certain size can’t be allowed to ride in a vehicle without a child safety seat or booster seat, so why are they (hopefully somewhat older) allowed to drink alcohol?