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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Are Parents Liable for Teen Drinking?

Steve Franzen. Provided.
By Steve Franzen, Campbell County Attorney 

With prom season, graduation and summer upon us, I thought it may be helpful to write a column to alert all parents of underage children of the potential problems with minors consuming alcohol. Sometimes we are so consumed with our heroin problem, it is easy to forget that our community is beset with a number of other issues including, but not limited to, underage drinking.

First of all, it should be pointed out that under Kentucky law, you must be 21 years of age in order to purchase or consume alcohol. It is illegal for anyone, even parents, to give or aid a person under the age of 21 in the purchase or consumption of alcohol. This criminal offense is punishable by fine of $250 for a first offense and up to a year in jail and/or $500 fine for a second offense. However, there are additional local laws that everyone should be aware of.

Most parents know it is illegal to give alcohol to a minor at a party at their home but some parents may not realize that potentially under local ordinances that have been passed in many parts of the county, it is a criminal offense to have any underage drinking occur on their property if the parent knew, or should have known, about the drinking.

For example, in Fort Thomas it is an offense for a person in control of any real estate to allow anyone under the age of 21 to remain on their property while in possession of alcohol. A similar ordinance can be found in the Campbell County Code of Ordinances.

The Campbell County Attorney’s Office is very much aware of underage individuals drinking alcohol at parties at friends’ homes or other locations and the serious problem that will result for parents or other adults having knowledge of or facilitating the drinking. Over the years, the County Attorney’s Office has prosecuted and obtained jail time for parents and coaches of sports teams who have thrown parties for kids and allowed the consumption of alcohol at those parties.

In addition to severe criminal penalties, parents can also be subject to severe civil penalties in the event of personal injury or property damage occurring when a minor consumes alcohol on their property.

I know it’s tempting and may be somewhat traditional in some families to throw a party for a child who is a high school senior and allow the consumption of alcohol, but the risk of injury or death to the students or other citizens is not worth it. Please be aware that our office will aggressively prosecute any violations of Kentucky law or local ordinances concerning this problem that are brought to our attention.

Hopefully minors and parents will take this message seriously and some family will be spared the heartbreak of injury or even death from an alcohol-related accident. Let us adults spread the word to our children and other parents of the urgency of this problem.

If you have any topics you would like to have covered in this column, please contact my office by e-mail at, by phone at 491-7700 or by regular mail addressed to 319 York St., Newport, KY 41071.


  1. I've never heard of a parent in Ft. Thomas being cited or charged for allowing kids to drink on their property.

  2. Where is the ordinance that says parents can be cited?

  3. nobody drinks alcohol before they are 21!!!

  4. Why is this even an issue. If your under 21, it's illegal! So, HELLO, yes parents should be cited

  5. Is there a penalty if you kid sneaks out and drinks and the parents are not aware of them doing it?

    1. Can be if it's reasonable to think the parents knew or should have known and passively allowed it...

  6. "For example, in Fort Thomas it is an offense for a person in control of any real estate to allow anyone under the age of 21 to remain on their property while in possession of alcohol. "
    So a parent should tell a child with alcohol to leave their property????? What if the child then goes and causes a tragic alcohol-related accident? Shouldn't the law be to confiscate both the alcohol and car keys? I, for one, do not condone teen drinking, but I'm not going to tell a drinking teenager that it is illegal for them to be on my property and then send them elsewhere!

    1. That would be when you take them home, call their parent(s) or the police.
      I am hoping that you were just being sarcastic for the humor in it.

  7. It may be time to republish this article. Teenage drinking in Fort Thomas is happening all the time. It is sad to see students from all grade levels involved in this behavior on a weekly basis. Take your dog out for a walk when the weather breaks, on a weekend night, and your chances of seeing a teenager who has been drinking is highly likely. This is just not the kids problem, this is a parent issue. Parents allowing this to go on at their homes. My best guess, those parents either are untouchable or just haven't been caught.

  8. If anyone policed any Catholic wedding, or Catholic festival in August or September, with all the fines, I think would help pay off national debt 😂