We often hear about the legal and personal consequences of teen drinking and driving, but many parents of teens may not be aware that they could be held liable for personal injury damages their teen causes while drinking and driving. The immediate legal consequences of underage drinking are immense. Teens can face up to one year in jail and a fine up to $5000 for a first offense alone. A DWI can stay on a person’s driving record for up to 15 years, affecting everything from traveling abroad to getting car insurance. Adults who provide alcohol to teens are also subject to strict legal penalties in Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, adults who provide alcohol to individuals under 21 years of age face gross misdemeanor charges, jail up to one year, and fines up to $3000. Adults who provide alcohol to teens also face civil penalties, including personal injury and property damage lawsuits.
Parents need to be aware that they can be held legally responsible for their teens actions behind the wheel. If your teen chooses to drink and drive and then gets into an accident, you may be responsible for paying for personal injury damages, property damages, and other damages that result from the accident. Because the law often holds parents accountable, parents have an immense responsibility in making sure their teens don’t drink and drive.
One of the easiest ways to prevent tragedies is to simply not serve teens alcohol. Unfortunately, many adults promote teen alcohol abuse, putting not only the teens, but other drivers in danger. Adults who serve teens alcohol may also be subject to any personal injury damages or property damage drunk teens cause. Many Minnesota counties also have special laws in effect that make it a criminal misdemeanor to supply alcohol to individuals who are underage.
Personal injury lawsuits against the families of teen drunk drivers may offer families an important way to protect and care for the victims of drunk driving. The Washington Post recently reported on lawsuits that the “affluenza” teen’s family was facing as a result of the teen’s drunk driving accident. One teen was thrown from the vehicle, resulting in serious brain damage. While the affluenza teen received a light sentence of ten years probation and rehab—a sentence that outraged many in the community, the family may still face personal injury lawsuits from the victims’ families.
The law offers families of teen drunk driving victims many important remedies. Families may be able to receive money for their loved one’s injuries, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. If you or a loved one has suffered at the hands of a drunk driver, it is important to speak to a Minnesota car accident lawyer as soon as possible. You may only have a limited amount of time to seek damages. The Law Office of Martin T. Montilino is a qualified auto accident lawyer who may be able to assist you and your loved ones if a teen drunk driver or negligent driver affected your lives.