Friday, February 23, 2018

Don’t be a social host

Underage drinking.
Some people see it as normal teenage behavior. Others see it as a very real problem. The issue may be debated for years to come. What is not up for debate, however, are the laws regarding providing alcohol to minor children.
In the state of Montana, parents are allowed to provide alcohol in “non-intoxicating quantities” to their own children. However, it is illegal to provide alcohol to children for whom they are not legally responsible. It is also illegal for parents to provide enough alcohol for any child, even their own, to become intoxicated.
“Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor” is MCA (Montana Code Annotated) 16-6-305 and it states that: “Except in the case of an alcoholic beverage provided in a non-intoxicating quantity to a person under 21 years of age by the person’s parent or guardian …. A person may not sell or otherwise provide an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 years of age.”
Intoxication is determined to be an amount that results in an excess of 0.05 percent BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) or substantial or visible mental or physical impairment. The state penalty for this crime is up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500.
Some parents believe that it is part of their parental duty to teach children about responsible alcohol use, and that allowing their kids to drink under their supervision is part of this training. Montanans tend to value individual freedom, and resent laws that limit their ability to conduct themselves as they see fit. Members of the Stillwater County DUI Task Force support parental freedom, but also want to educate parents on the dangers of underage alcohol use.
Consumption of alcohol can negatively affect a developing brain. Studies show that even in adults, consuming more than three standard drinks in a day puts one at risk for impairment and health problems, and increase the likelihood of developing an addiction to alcohol.
The younger a young person starts drinking, and the more often they consume alcohol, the greater the risk.
Some people naturally have a high physical tolerance for alcohol, they can drink more than most people without becoming uncoordinated or slurring their speech. But this does not mean a person has less risk of developing problems.
Alcohol also causes mental impairment, which will go unnoticed until that person needs to make a quick decision or exercise sound judgment. A parent who provides their child enough alcohol to become mentally impaired is still putting them at great risk.
The Stillwater County DUI Task Force encourages adults to not practice social hosting. Giving alcohol to a group of teenagers, even in the safety of your home, is putting young people at risk for health, impairment, and addiction problems.
It is also creating a belief system that getting drunk is no big deal, and it is okay to break a law if you don’t agree with it. Teenagers will enter adulthood with this mindset, and suddenly find themselves on their own with no parent to watch over them and make sure nothing bad happens.
This sets them up for serious and possibly life-threatening problems. Help protect our future generation.
Don’t be a social host.