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Underage Drinking In Massachusetts | Laws & Prevention

Alcohol can cause serious health problems, including liver disease, depression, and addiction. Children and teens are particularly vulnerable to these issues. That’s because their bodies are still developing.

To protect young people from alcohol-related problems, each state, including Massachusetts, has underage drinking laws.

Underage Drinking Laws In Massachusetts

As with every other state, the legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. That means it’s illegal for anyone under 21 years of age to possess or drink alcohol.

Anyone who violates this law will receive a fine of $50 for a first offense and up to $150 for subsequent offenses. They may also receive a 90-day driver’s license suspension. In addition, a police officer can arrest any minor in possession of alcohol.

There are some exceptions to this law. First, a person under 21 may drink alcohol when supervised by a parent or legal guardian on property owned by the adult. However, the adult must have purchased the alcohol from a package store, brewery, or winery and not from any other establishment.

In addition, under Massachusetts law, an 18-to-21-year-old may carry alcoholic beverages (but not drink them) as part of their job.

Other Massachusetts laws related to underage drinking include:

Underage Drunk Driving Laws

In Massachusetts, people under 21 face harsher drunk driving laws than people who are 21 or older.

If you’re of legal drinking age and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, you won’t receive a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge unless your blood alcohol content (the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream) is at least 0.08.

However, if you’re under 21, you can receive a DUI if your blood alcohol content is at least 0.02. Penalties may include driver’s license suspension, fines, and jail time.

Underage Alcohol Purchasing Laws

In Massachusetts, people under 21 may not purchase alcohol or ask a person of legal drinking age to purchase alcohol for them. A violation of this law can lead to a $300 fine and a 180-day driver’s license suspension.

In addition, a person under 21 who makes or uses a false identification card or driver’s license to purchase alcohol may receive a $200 fine and up to 3 months of jail time.

Social Host Laws

The Massachusetts “Social Host” law makes it illegal to sell or provide alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21 (unless you’re the person’s parent or legal guardian).

This law applies to people of all ages. For example, an underage person who throws a high school or college party may not provide alcohol to their underage peers.

A person who violates this law may face a fine of up to $2,000, up to one year in prison, or both. Also, if the owner of a restaurant or other establishment serves alcohol to a minor, they may face additional penalties, including liquor license revocation.

In addition, if you provide alcohol to an underage person and the person becomes intoxicated to the point that they injure someone else, the injured person can sue you.

How To Prevent Underage Drinking

While the above laws are helpful, they’re not the only tools we have to prevent underage drinking.

For example, many schools have programs that educate children and teens on the risks of underage alcohol use. They may also hold classes that teach kids how to refuse drinks amidst peer pressure.

As a parent, you can fight und erage drinking by advocating for such programs in your local schools.

You can also reduce your child’s risk of underage drinking by:

  • discussing why the consumption of alcohol isn’t safe for minors
  • answering your child’s questions about alcohol openly and honestly
  • setting clear rules regarding alcohol
  • regularly asking about your child’s life and mental health
  • getting to know your child’s friends and their parents
  • supervising all of your child’s parties and other social events
  • helping your child learn to handle peer pressure
  • encouraging your child and their friends to engage in fun, alcohol-free activities
  • storing all alcohol in locked containers

Set A Good Example

In addition, remember that children often mimic their parents’ behaviors. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines moderate drinking as having one drink or less per day for women and two drinks or less per day for men. A standard “drink” contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. This amount of alcohol is found in:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits

If you or someone you love struggles with alcohol abuse, please reach out to a Recovering Champions specialist. We provide mental health counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and other evidence-based interventions for substance abuse and addiction.

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