Think it's OK to allow underage drinking to celebrate the end of school? Think again.
Police and prosecutors say not only can youngsters be cited for consuming alcohol, but the parents who allow it can go to jail.
Augusta District Attorney Danny Craig says his office will prosecute any cases involving parents who assist in providing alcohol to a minor.
He also pointed out in an e-mail that homeowner insurance policies have exemptions for coverage of injuries caused by criminal acts.
"Moreover, if a child drinks alcohol at one house, and then goes elsewhere and consumes more, the first supplier is jointly and severally liable for all injuries and damages caused by that child," Mr. Craig said.
Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said parents might justify their actions, saying "'At least this way I know where they're at, they're safe, I have their keys.'"
But he added, "It's just so difficult to control these parties and control who goes in, who leaves."
Such parties are not a new thing.
Last weekend police made arrests at a home in the Springlakes subdivision in Martinez. Jeanine Helen Burack, 43, and her son, Bryan Michael Burack, 18, were arrested Sunday and charged with providing alcohol to minors.
Ms. Burack told police she arrived home after the party began and took liquor from teens inside but was not aware of alcohol being consumed. Police, however, said a keg also had been set up in the home's back yard. Its purchase is now being investigated.
Richmond County Sgt. Richard Elim said his department steps up enforcement this time of year in part by conducting underage buys from local stores.
"If we find parents who supply alcohol to kids we charge them," Sgt. Elim said. "There's no gray area. The safety of our kids is paramount and we take it very seriously."
Aiken authorities are also watching the problem.
"If minors are seen with alcohol and the parents are out of town, we try to determine who supplied the alcohol," said Lt. Mark Farmer, of the city of Aiken's Department of Public Safety.
Although parents can be held liable for their children's misdeeds, Lt. Farmer said his department usually charges youngsters with offenses that carry a possible 30-day jail sentence and loss of their driver's license.
Lt. Michael Frank, a spokesman with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, said South Carolina law does allow parents to provide alcoholic beverages to their own children in their own home.
But parents providing alcohol for other children is illegal.
An adult charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor could spend 30 days in jail or see a maximum fine of $200.
Staff Writers Adam Folk and Michelle Guffey contributed to this report.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS
South Carolina Code of Laws
SECTION 61-4-90. Transfer of beer or wine for underage person's consumption.
[SC ST SEC 61-4-90] It is unlawful for a person to transfer or give to a person under the age of 21 years for the purpose of consumption beer or wine at any place in the State. A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than $200 or imprisoned not more than 30 days. A person found guilty of a violation of Section 61-6-4070 and this section may not be sentenced under both sections for the same offense.
The provisions of this section do not apply ... to a parent or guardian over the age of 21 giving beer or wine to his children or wards under the age of 21 in their home; or to a person giving beer or wine to another person under the age of 21 in conjunction with a religious ceremony or purpose if the beer or wine was lawfully purchased.
SECTION 61-6-4070 Transfer to person under the age of 21 years.
It is unlawful for a person to transfer or give to a person under the age of 21 years for the purpose of consumption alcoholic liquors at any place in the State. A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than $200 or imprisoned not more than 30 days.
Georgia law, Official Code of Georgia 3-3-23
(1) No person knowingly, directly or through another person, shall furnish, cause to be furnished, or permit any person in such person's employ to furnish any alcoholic beverage to any person under 21 years of age
(2) No person under 21 years of age shall purchase, attempt to purchase, or knowingly possess any alcoholic beverage
(3) No person under 21 years of age shall misrepresent such person's age in any manner whatever for the purpose of obtaining illegally any alcoholic beverage;
(4) No person knowingly or intentionally shall act as an agent to purchase or acquire any alcoholic beverage for or on behalf of a person under 21 years of age
(5) No person under 21 years of age shall misrepresent his or her identity or use any false identification for the purpose of purchasing or obtaining any alcoholic beverage.
(b) The prohibitions contained in paragraphs (1), (2), and (4) ... shall not apply with respect to the sale, purchase, or possession of alcoholic beverages for consumption: (1) For medical purposes pursuant to a prescription of a physician duly authorized ... in this state; or (2) At a religious ceremony.