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State Law In

Rhode Island

What does state law say?

It is against the law for a host to permit an underage person to consume alcohol.

DEFINITIONS WITHIN THE LAW:
“Permit” is defined as “to give permission for, or approval of, the possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage by any form of conduct, that would cause a reasonable person to believe that permission or approval has been given.”

SETTINGS COVERED:
The hosts’s residence or real property.

What happens if an adult breaks the law?

Adults who are charged with this violation face graduated sentences.  The first offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a minimum fine of $350 and a maximum fine of $1,000, and/or a prison sentence not to exceed six months. The second offense is a misdemeanor for punishable by a minimum fine of $750 and maximum fine of $1,000 and/or a prison sentence not to exceed one year. Third and subsequent offenses are a felony punishable by minimum fine of $1,000 and maximum fine of $2,500 and/or a prison sentence not to exceed 3 years. For 18 to 21 year-olds, there may be a civil penalty of not more than $500. In addition, any person convicted may be required to attend an educational program approved by the Department of Health designed to recognize the dangers of underage drinking, and may be subject to up to 30 hours of community service

Can adult do anything to rescind the violation?

Not addressed.

Can the adult be sued?

The State of Rhode Island has not enacted a law regarding civil penalties for social hosting.  In the absence of a statute, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has held that if a homeowner provided alcoholic beverages to underage persons or had actual knowledge of the presence and consumption of alcohol by underage persons on the property, then the homeowner was duty-bound to exercise reasonable care to protect the injured guest.  In Willis v. Omar, the R.I. Supreme Court stated that the Court will only recognize Social Host Liability in the limited circumstances where a special relationship exists because a host unlawfully furnishing alcohol to underage persons. In Willis, the R.I. Supreme Court stated that “[w]e consistently have refused to adopt the principle that a social host owes a duty to a third party for injuries suffered by an intoxicated guest who was imbibing at his or her home, and we have only imposed such a duty where a special relationship exists.”







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Are there local laws that I should be aware of?

It is possible. Check with your local municipality since there are some communities that enact additional local ordinances which can include fines and other penalties.