If it’s legal in your state to drink underage if you’re with your parents, do theyhave to be present for the entire time you’re under the influenceor just when the alcohol is consumed?

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If it’s legal in your state to drink underage if you’re with your parents, do theyhave to be present for the entire time you’re under the influenceor just when the alcohol is consumed?

My son’s roommate was recently charged with a minor in possession. Essentially what happened was his parents came to town for a football game. They all drank together (in TX it’s legal for a minor to drink if a parent is physically present). They dropped him off at his dorm and later that night the campus police checked the entire dorm for alcohol violations. The roommate failed a sobriety test, etc. but explained that he has been with his parents.

Asked on September 18, 2011 under Criminal Law, Texas

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If in Texas it is legal for a minor to drink alcohol in the presence of his or her parents, the statute the way I read it is that the drinking has to be done in the presence of the parents.

The problem is that your son's roommate was charged for being under the influence of alcohol in such a manner that he was unable to take care of himself in a safe manner and for being under the influence in the dorm in violation of its rules, not for drinking alcohol outside the presence of his parents.

For your son's roommate to be charged for failing to pass a sobriety test and assuming he drank all the alcohol he did with his parents, then his parents could be seen as irresponsible for allowing him to have such an excessive amount.

Good question.

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The problem here is the campus dorms are part of the school and they can have much more restrictive rules than the general state laws; especially for minors. This is all for the protection of minors. So your son's roommate's parents in the eyes of the law could have been held liable for a lot worse because the public policy here is if the parents are there to protect the child from himself and others, then it is allowed. However, once his parents dropped him off drunk or inebriated at the school, he still posed a threat to himself and others and his parents pretty much broke the campus rules and possibly the main state law for this final act. What should have occurred is the parents should have waited to ensure he would pass the breathalyzer or spent the night with them and then returned to school. I am sure if someone challenged the results perhaps the the sobriety test results would be reversed. Essentially this is going to come down to a public policy challenge and whether the dorm laws are more restrictive.


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