Recently the local paper and television news has been reporting on a 15 year old girl who was raped on Neptune Beach after getting drunk at a party at a beach home. Under Florida laws the homeowners of the house where the party took place can be held criminally responsible and can be held responsible in a civil cause of action.
The “House Party” statute Section 856.015 of the Florida Statutes states:
“No person having control of any residence shall allow an open house party to take place at said residence if any alcoholic beverage is possessed or consumed at said residence by any minor where the person knows that an alcoholic beverage or drug is in the possession of or being consumed by a minor at said residence and the person fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of the alcoholic beverage or drug.”
This statute is a 2nd degree misdemeanor. A minor is defined in the statute as anyone not permitted to possess or consume alcohol. So, for the purposes of this statute, anyone under the age of 21 is a minor.
As far as personal liability this statute will create a civil cause of action in the event that damages are caused by violation of the statute. For example if a minor drinks alcohol at a house party then leaves the party and causes a crash the person in control of the home where the party took place would be legally responsible for the damages caused in the motor vehicle crash.
In the recent rape case the minor who was sexually assaulted will probably be making a claim for damages against the homeowner and the renter of the house where she and other minors were served alcohol.
Our office has helped victims of car accidents who have been hurt by drunk teenage drivers. Many of these cases involved minors served not only at bars but also friend’s homes. We urge all parents to think twice before allowing alcohol at prom parties, birthday parties or anytime minors are going to be in the house. If you have been injured by a drunk driver in Jacksonville please call the Law Offices of Henry E. Gare at (904) 387-6101.