Question: Can parents that furnish alcohol and allow underage party guests to drink that alcohol be sued when injuries arise directly due to the minor’s intoxication?
Answer: YES. Indiana Code makes it a class B misdemeanor for a person to “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally sell, barter, exchange, provide, or furnish an alcoholic beverage to a minor.” It is also a class B misdemeanor for a person “to sell, barter, deliver, or give away an alcoholic beverage to another person who is in a state of intoxication if the person knows that the other person is intoxicated.” Civil liability may be imposed for injuries to third parties caused by violations of these statutes. In most cases where it has been held that a defendant furnished alcohol to another for his or her use in violation of these statutes, the supplier was ‘the active means’ by and through which the alcohol was placed in the custody and control of the intoxicated person. Thus, if you want to be the “cool” parent that allows minors to drink at a party, you better make sure that you have lots of insurance and understand that you have lots of exposure both civilly and criminally, when those minors leave your party. Further, you can also have exposure if that minor injuries themselves while intoxicated at your party by doing something like diving in the swallow end of the pool and breaking their neck, because they did not appreciate the danger of diving in the pool due to their intoxication.