Do you serve liquor at your home to anyone under the legal drinking age? If you live in Tempe, you should be aware of a new local ordinance, scheduled to go into effect in February, holds parents accountable even if those who are drinking are the children of the host. Under the new ordinance, parents and immediate family members who host gatherings where alcohol is served to minors are subject to a $250 fine or may be required to attend a substance-education class. The cost of the class is only $100, but the educational option is not available for multiple offenses, which carry fines of $1,000 (second offense) and $1,500 (third and subsequent offenses).
Existing state law provides that it is a misdemeanor for an adult to serve alcohol to a minor, but specifically excludes minors who live with you or are members of your immediate family. Local officials claim that the ordinance is not in conflict with state law, because the fee is supposedly imposed to offset the cost of police services unrelated to such charges. However, we expect legal challenges to the Tempe ordinance which assert that the ordinance violates state law.
If you are charged under the Tempe ordinance, or if your child is charged with underage drinking anywhere in the greater Phoenix area, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for assistance.