You Can Be Held Criminally and Civilly Liable for Injuries Resulting from Buying Alcohol for Minors

Recently, three men were arrested in connection with the death of 19-year-old Matthew Flores. Flores was found unresponsive at a house party and later died due to alcohol poisoning. One of the accused is charged with “purchasing or furnishing alcohol to a minor,” and the other two are charged with “furnishing alcohol to a minor.”

Section 106.06 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code prohibits a person from purchasing alcohol for or giving alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 years old. There are two exceptions in this statute. If the purchaser or furnisher is “the minor’s adult parent, guardian, or spouse,” or if they are an adult in whose custody the minor has been committed by a court, then that person can provide the minor with alcohol so long as that adult is “visibly present when the minor possesses or consumes the alcoholic beverage.” The second exception deals with 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds enrolled in cooking or wine tasting classes—an extremely limited circumstance.

It is important to note that it does not matter if the person furnishing the alcohol to the minor is 15, 20, 25, or 50; they all commit the same crime. An offense under this section of the law is Class A misdemeanor, which can be punished by a fine not to exceed $4,000, confinement in a jail not to exceed one year, or both the fine and jail time.

In addition to the criminal ramifications of providing alcohol to a minor, you potentially open yourself up to a large amount of civil liability. In this case, the parents of the deceased minor could sue those who provided the minor with the alcohol. More common than that, though, are cases where someone provides alcohol to a minor, and then the minor drives drunk, crashing into and injuring a third party. In those cases, the third party could sue not only the drunk minor who crashed into them, but also anyone who provided the minor with alcohol to begin with.

When viewing all the possible things that could go wrong and all of the consequences of providing a minor with alcohol, the only prudent and safe action is to not do it at all.