ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Adults who host underage drinking parties can be held civilly liable for injuries caused by a drunken guest, Maryland’s highest court ruled unanimously on Tuesday in what one lawyer calls a landmark decision.
The Court of Appeals ruled in two lawsuits brought by victims of drunken driving incidents against adults who hosted parties that led to an underage guest becoming drunk.
The court based its decision on a Maryland criminal law that makes it illegal to serve alcohol to underage people outside of immediate family or a religious service.
Judge Sally D. Adkins wrote that people under 21 are less able to make responsible decisions regarding alcohol. Part of that law “carved out that specific class for special protection against adult social hosts who knowingly and willfully allow consumption of alcoholic beverages on their property.”