Prom OVI season is here! That means that Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their partners in law enforcement have begun the annual Prom enforcement blitz. In addition to tuxedos, ugly wrist corsages and the awkward pictures; make sure you talk to your teen about managing a police encounter.
MADD has shifted its focus away from its singular mission of preventing drunk driving, to include an effort to curb underage drinking. The Prom OVI enforcement is used in conjunction with their efforts at instilling fear amongst parents who may provide alcohol to minors in their home. This initiative has been aided by a national ad campaign called “Parents Who Host Lose The Most.” As prom season approaches you may be confronted with information about furnishing alcohol to minors and the penalties associated with such action. Ohio Revised Code Section 4301.69 contains most of the information concerning underage alcohol possession and use. Penalties are in Ohio Revised Code Section 4301.99.
An unsuspecting person who furnishes alcohol to an underage person is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. The maximum penalty associated with this offense is six months in jail or $1,000 fine or both. A social host, therefore, risks being fined and imprisoned when he/she furnishes alcohol to a person who is not 21 years of age. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be in the house – if you are negligent in supervision or permissive you can be charged with social hosting. If you purchase a hotel room, provide a campsite, or have people in your house or on your property you will be held responsible for what happens.
In addition to the penalties for furnishing alcohol to minors, you may also face a rioting charge if your party is deemed unruly or draws police attention. Rioting is defined as four or more persons engaged in disorderly conduct, and it is “aggravated” if those involved commit or act with the purpose to commit a felony or an act of violence. Aggravated Riot also includes situations where those involved are carrying weapons. Aggravated Riot is a felony, and Riot is a first-degree misdemeanor. Under a law passed in 2003, if you are convicted of rioting or aggravated rioting, you will be immediately expelled for one year from all state-supported colleges in Ohio, and will be ineligible for state financial aid for two years.
The best way to avoid a problem is to plan ahead and designate a sober driver or hire a limousine service for the night. If you do face a Prom OVI, contact attorney Charles M. Rowland II at (937) 318-1384.