Graduation season is upon us. Congratulations to each of the high school and college graduates in Southwest Florida.
Our injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral know this is a joyous season full of pride, recognition and personal growth. But it is also a time of needless heartache and tragedy for families forced each year to deal with the serious or fatal injury of a loved one so full of life and promise.
The inherent risks of the season usually involve either graduation celebrations or road accidents involving teenagers. However, there is much parents and teens can do to help reduce the risks of being involved in a life-altering “accident.”
Responsible Graduation Party Hosts
If your parenting philosophy includes the notion that you’d rather your kids and their friends drink and/or partake in recreational drugs under your supervision, we have a stark warning for you: You face very serious criminal penalties and civil liabilities for allowing underage consumption on your property.
Under Florida Statute 562.11(1), the crime of Providing Alcohol to a Minor occurs when a person sells, gives, serves, or provides alcoholic beverages to a person under 21 years of age. It is punishable by up to 60 days in jail. Unlike some states, Florida law does not allow parents to give alcohol even to their own children.
Civilly, Florida’s dram shop law is found in Florida Statutes Section 768.125 and permits civil liability for anyone who furnishes alcohol to an underage person or someone who is habitually addicted to alcohol. What this means, is if an injury occurs, whether on your premises or after a child leaves a party, you can be held responsible for resulting damages.
Responsible parents and property owners do not take a permissive view of underage alcohol or drug use. Parents who are hosting parties for both teenagers and adults, where alcohol is served, must also be mindful to keep underage attendees from consuming alcohol and must also monitor alcohol consumption of adult attendees. The same basic rules apply as those for all responsible party hosts, including making sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food. Stopping alcohol service well before an event concludes is also a good idea.
Teen Car Accidents a Spring Risk
The other major risk factor for your teen is being involved in a collision. While you might be a responsible party host, other parties a teen attends might not be so well regulated. This is the time of year when teenagers are also exploring new freedoms, enjoying newly earned driver’s licenses and even hitting the road in a new(er) vehicle received as a graduation present in recognition of their accomplishments and hard work.
Our injury lawyers in Fort Myers and Cape Coral have written extensively about choosing a vehicle and providing adequate insurance for your teen driver. Entering into a teen driver contract that addresses common risks — including rules of the road, distraction, seat belt use, night driving and passenger restrictions — is another great way to help reduce the risk that your teen is involved in a tragedy.
If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.