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Underage drinking at reception

I have a few cousins who are just under 21 (20, 19, etc) and they like to party.  We have to hire a police officer to work at our reception because it is at a public park and we are serving alcohol.  I'm really worried that the underage cousins will try to sneak drinks.  I don't know what the actual consequences will be if they get caught (will they be asked to leave?  arrested??  will the whole reception get shut down??).  I'm nervous to ask the sheriff's office because I don't want to put them on high alert about it.  How would you handle this?  I don't think the cousins know there will be a police officer there, although I'm assuming he will be in uniform and they will see him, but would you recommend casually alerting them (or their parents) ahead of time?  Or somehow alerting our bar tender to be really vigilant about carding anyone who looks young?  Maybe I just have to let the chips fall where they may, but I thought I'd see if anyone had any strokes of genius.

Re: Underage drinking at reception

  • I'm not sure what the state laws are, but in TX, you can be served if your parents are with you. To serve alcohol in the state you have to be TABC certified (I was certified for a long time), and if they were to be served improperly, the liability falls on the bartender, not the venue, and not the people renting the venue. I would see if you can find out the insurance policies on underage drinking.
    For my wedding, our newphews who are 18 will be able to drink since their parents will be there.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_chit-chat_underage-drinking-at-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:14Discussion:42abe50e-220d-4d60-b373-85615333cce5Post:d7c48dde-38ff-4519-a12e-02f56eafbfa9">Re: Underage drinking at reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]You could be arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor if you allow them to drink at your party.  There are very serious consequences.  If you're going to serve alcohol hire a licensed bartender. They will ID your guests and not serve to underage guests.  You should not have to tell the bartenders not to serve underage guests.  Any bartender worth their pay will ID anyway. <strong>They won't want to lose their license for your party.</strong>
    Posted by LingerLonger1[/QUOTE]

    Precisely. I was a super B when I bartended because you can actually get thrown in jail.
    However, it's worth noting that all alcohol laws are state laws (every state is 21 and up, but it's state legislation that dictates that), and I would imagine liability and licensing laws are completely different in every state. See if there is an alcohol commission in your state, and check out those laws.
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_chit-chat_underage-drinking-at-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:14Discussion:42abe50e-220d-4d60-b373-85615333cce5Post:d7c48dde-38ff-4519-a12e-02f56eafbfa9">Re: Underage drinking at reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]You could be arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor if you allow them to drink at your party.  There are very serious consequences.  If you're going to serve alcohol hire a licensed bartender. They will ID your guests and not serve to underage guests.  You should not have to tell the bartenders not to serve underage guests.  Any bartender worth their pay will ID anyway. They won't want to lose their license for your party.
    Posted by LingerLonger1[/QUOTE]

    All of this.

    And cwaggoner, I had no idea that was allowed in TX.  Just out of interest, does that mean anyone under the age of 21 can drink as long as the parent is present or is there an age restriction for that as well?

  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_chit-chat_underage-drinking-at-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:14Discussion:42abe50e-220d-4d60-b373-85615333cce5Post:49f6cc62-4a67-4fda-8098-44eda7aa3ac1">Re: Underage drinking at reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]<a href="http://www.alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/APIS_State_Profile.html?state=NY" rel="nofollow">http://www.alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/APIS_State_Profile.html?state=NY</a> You would be furnishing alcohol to the minors if they were served.  Look at the 5th box.
    Posted by LingerLonger1[/QUOTE]

    I can't tell, does that mean the host is liable or the bartender?
    When I served in bars, and working catering gigs, I was 100% liable. The hosts relieved themselves of liability by hiring TABC certified people serving (which is obviously what we are doing for our wedding).
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_chit-chat_underage-drinking-at-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:14Discussion:42abe50e-220d-4d60-b373-85615333cce5Post:ec3d6c05-0797-4bf2-b345-7c6d57bc4b1e">Re: Underage drinking at reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Underage drinking at reception : All of this. And cwaggoner, I had no idea that was allowed in TX.  Just out of interest, does that mean anyone under the age of 21 can drink as long as the parent is present or is there an age restriction for that as well?
    Posted by Maggie0829[/QUOTE]

    Yep. Although it's kind of hard to prove if the child doesn't have an ID, that IS the law. When I worked in a restaurant, the restaurant had a policy to not serve ANYONE under 21. But that is the right of the restaurant. It was probably a smart move since it was a college town.
    However, I would say growing up in Dallas, ordering a drink when I was underage with my parents was never an issue. I was always served. Maybe because my parents LOOK like parents??
  • In OH you can be served at home with your legal guardian or parents. But you can't drink in public under 21. Major fines for the company, losing their license, you can get fined for furnishing, and the minors can be charged with underage drinking. NBD.

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  • I think I was unclear.  I'm not hoping to help them sneak drinks or get around the police officer/bar tender.  I'm trying to figure out if there is a non-awkward way to let them know that they reeeeally shouldn't try.  We have already filled out the paperwork with the sheriff's office and the police officer is hired.  I suppose I could contact the office again and ask if he will be in uniform, if we should inform our guests, what are the consequences, etc.  I suppose I should just trust our bartender to be very active about carding people.
  • Leave that up to them, I would say. Trust them to card and deal with that (they do it all the time).
    I just brought the thing up about being served with parents, because that is how my nephews will be able to drink.
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I would just double check to make sure what you are liable for when it comes to the underage drinking and if it turns out you are not liable you are going to have to trust your bartender to not serve them.  If the bartender does then he deserves to get into trouble and so do your underage cousins.  Trying to sneak anything by while a police officer is present is just plain dumb.

  • Check with the venue.  Certainly they have hosted events where alcohol is served.  i have even heard of buying liability insurance, fairly cheap too
  • I would talk to the sheriff's office again like Lucy suggested. It doesn't mean you'll put them on high alert or that you condone underage drinking at your party. Your concerns are very valid and most party hosts in your shoes would have those same concerns.

    I'd say something along the lines of (after you've gone through the basics of where your party is and that you already hired a cop), "There will be some underage guests at our wedding. I don't know that they will even try to drink underage, but just as a precaution, what are the laws on this? If our bartender WERE to serve someone underage, who is liable? I am just very concerned as the host of what my responsibility in all that would be."

    That keeps it hypothetical but you get your answers straight from the source. It also shows you to be a responsible host. These are questions many people would have and probably have had in the past.


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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_chit-chat_underage-drinking-at-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:14Discussion:42abe50e-220d-4d60-b373-85615333cce5Post:145c9d43-e5a9-48d1-a990-8b167455d955">Re: Underage drinking at reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]I would talk to the sheriff's office again like Lucy suggested. It doesn't mean you'll put them on high alert or that you condone underage drinking at your party. Your concerns are very valid and most party hosts in your shoes would have those same concerns. I'd say something along the lines of (after you've gone through the basics of where your party is and that you already hired a cop), "There will be some underage guests at our wedding. I don't know that they will even try to drink underage, but just as a precaution, what are the laws on this? If our bartender WERE to serve someone underage, who is liable? I am just very concerned as the host of what my responsibility in all that would be." That keeps it hypothetical but you get your answers straight from the source. It also shows you to be a responsible host. These are questions many people would have and probably have had in the past.
    Posted by Summer2011Bride[/QUOTE]

    This is what I would do.

    In Louisiana your parents can order and serve you a drink.   The bartender or waitress  CAN NOT give the drink to the underage person.   They just  give it to the parent and they hand it to their child.  Most national chains have corporate policies against it, but smaller mom and pop places allow it.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • If what you're asking is how to make it clear to your cousins that they aren't allowed to drink, I would probably approach that issue with the parents of the cousins.  Just say "look, I don't want to be the bad guy, but there will be a police officer on-duty at our wedding, so I'm concerned about underage drinking and what consequences there could be."
  • I would take the advice of others and hire a legit bartender. In addition to that, I would tell the about your specific concerns over these underage guests.

    Just give them a heads up that they may try to sneak a drink and you don't want any trouble. Do it in writing. Maybe even provide photos. Basically, cover yourself.
  • I would look into your state laws and your venue. In MN it is legal for an underage person to be served alcohol by their parents (they can buy it and give it to their child). However, our venue clearly states in our contract that if anyone under 21 is served alcohol (by parents, bartender or anyone else), our event will be shut down. Most people know there will be a cop at a wedding, however, I still plan on spreading this info by word of mouth. Be nice about it, when the conversation of the wedding comes up just simply slip in the fact that there will be a cop there to enforce that no one under the age of 21 will be served alcohol by anyone. Don't say anything that could lead the parents or cousins to believe you are expecting them to be served alcohol, that can bring up a whole other issue.
  • If you are that concerned that they will make an attempt to "sneak" drinks can you have a chat with their parents (without offending them)? If you see them drinking at the wedding politely tell them they need to stop and are underage and how liable you could be if they were caught.
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