Lingle has underage
drinking bill

Adults can be sued if guests
at their party drink and drive
and cause injury or death

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

Homeowners or renters who don't make sure their underage children or guests aren't sneaking beers from the ice chest during the party could be sued for deaths or injuries caused by an underage drinking driver under a bill passed Thursday by the Legislature.

Lawmakers said they find it "essential to deter complacency on the part of any adult who condones or tolerates the acquisition or use of alcohol by children on premises under the adult's control."

The bill given final approval by the Senate applies to adults who knowingly provide liquor to minors or those "who reasonably could have prohibited or prevented such alcohol consumption." The bill now goes to Gov. Linda Lingle to be signed into law.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae) said the measure is a top priority of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and comes in the wake of recent traffic accidents involving underage drivers who had been drinking.

"The enactment of this law is to ensure that everyone is aware that they have to be responsible when they have alcoholic beverages available," she said.

The current law only prohibits an adult from selling liquor to anyone under the age of 21, and the bill would expand it to also bar any adult from providing liquor to a minor.

Lawmakers cite MADD-Hawaii's 2000 Hawaii Youth Summit, at which the leading recommendation from the youth representatives was to increase the education and liability of parents and other adults who provide alcohol to minors.

MADD said Hawaii would become the 32nd state to implement a "social host liability" through law or court rulings.


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