Explanation of Massachusetts laws and penalties with respect to underage drinking and/or driving and social host liability
The legal drinking age in Massachussetts is 21 years of age.
For persons under 21 years of age:
A person over 21 years of age may not buy alcohol for a person under 21 years of age, unless their relationship is that of parent and child or husband and wife, and even in those situations liquor must be bought at a package liquor store, not a restaurant or tavern. Violation of this section may result in a fine of $2,000, imprisonment up to 6 months, or both. M.G.L.c.138, Sec. 34
By persons under 21 years of age:
Alcohol may not be purchased or attempted to be purchased by a person under 21 years of age. A person may not lie about his/her age to purchase alcohol, present false identification, or make arrangements with someone older to buy alcohol for him/her. Violation of this section may result in a fine of $300. M.G.L.c.138, Sec.34A
Liquor purchasing ID cards:
Any person who transfers, alters, or defaces any such card, or who makes, uses, carries, sells, or distributes a false identification card, or furnishes false information in obtaining such a card, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Such persons are subject to immediate arrest. M.G.L. c. 138, Sec.34B
To persons Under 21 Years of Age
Any person without a license to serve alcohol may not serve someone under 21 years of age, unless their relationship is that of parent and child or husband and wife. Violation of this section may result in a fine of $2000, 6 months imprisonment, or both. M.G.L.c.138, Sec.34
Social Host Liability
Under Massachusetts law, a host of a party may be held liable for the injuries suffered by others if the host knew or should have known that a guest was drunk and nevertheless gave/permitted the guest to take an alcoholic drink and thereafter, because of the guest’s intoxication, the guest negligently caused injury to others. If the guest who causes an injury is a minor, the host who served the alcohol or permitted alcohol to be served to the minor might be held liable to others even if the minor was already intoxicated when the minor was served alcohol.
Alcohol and Driving
Transportation of Alcohol
It is unlawful for a person under 21 years of age knowingly to drive a car with alcohol in it unless accompanied by a parent. To do so may result in a fine of up to fifty dollars or suspension of the driver’s license for three months, or both. May be arrested immediately without a warrant. M.G.L.c.138,Sec.34C
Drinking and Driving
Persons may not drive while drinking from an open container of an alcoholic beverage. To do so may result in a fine for not more than $500. M.G.L.c.90, Sec.24(1)
Driving while under the Influence of Alcohol
Persons may not drive while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or imprisonment of up to two years, or both. If a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe a person is driving under the influence, a breathalyzer test may be given. The driver has the right to refuse to take the test, but this will result in automatic loss of license for a period of 180 days. M.G.L.c.90, Sec.24(1)
Conviction for a first violation of this section results in a loss of license for at least 45 days (3 years for offenders under the age of 21) and either a fine or imprisonment or probation and assignment to an alcohol education program. Conviction of a second violation means loss of license for at least one year, a fine and a minimum of 14 days in jail, or two years of probation and a minimum of 14 days confinement in a residential alcohol treatment program. May be arrested immediately without warrant. M.G.L.c.90, Sec.24D
Anyone who operates a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating substance and who operates that vehicle recklessly or negligently so as to endanger and who, by any such operation causes death of another, is guilty of homicide by motor vehicle and shall be punished by imprisonment at the state prison for not less than 2 -1/2 years, a fine of not more than $5,000 and revocation of driver’s license for 10 years. May be arrested immediately without a warrant. M.G.L.c.90, Sec.24G
Causing Serious Bodily Injury Due to Drunk Driving
Anyone who operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating substance and who operates the vehicle recklessly or negligently so as to endanger and who, by any such operation, causes serious bodily injury to another shall be punished by imprisonment at the state prison for not less than 2-1/2 years, a fine of not more than $5,000 and revocation of driver’s license for 2 years. May be arrested immediately without a warrant. M.G.L.c90, Sec.24L
Open Containers of Alcohol
No person shall consume any alcoholic beverage nor possess or transport any open can, bottle or other container containing any alcoholic beverage outdoors on any town street, sidewalk, way and public property including but not limited to parking lots, parks, school playgrounds, recreation areas, or conservation areas. Whoever violates this section shall pay a fine of $300.00 for each violation.
Dean of Students Office – Serious cases of behavior or allegations of behavior that could result in expulsion, suspension and/or removal from housing deferred or imposed will be handled primarily by the Dean of Students Office. These include, but are not limited to, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, domestic violence, bias related incidents, campus disturbances, threatening behavior, fire safety violations, use and/or possession of weapons and fireworks, records falsification, physical assault, operating under the influence, drug and alcohol possession or distribution, town or state violations and matters resulting in a student’s arrest or citations by local municipalities or campus police. Additionally, matters that impact the health and safety of the community or its members and matters requiring interim action, health and safety considerations, repeat or egregious violations of policy or contractual non-compliance in administrative units as defined jointly by the Dean of Students Office and the administrative unit should be handled by the Dean of Students Office.
- a) Distribution or Sale of Alcohol: The manufacture, distribution, dispensing or sale of, or the attempted manufacture, distribution, dispensing of alcohol which is unlawful or otherwise prohibited by or not in compliance with any University policy or campus regulations or being unable to exercise care for one’s own safety because one is under the influence of alcohol. This provision shall not apply to circumstances in which the person under the influence was given alcohol without her or his knowledge and permission or if a referral meets the requirements as outlined in the University’s medical amnesty policy.
- b) Unlawful Possession or Use: The possession or use of alcohol which is unlawful or otherwise prohibited by or not in compliance with any University policy or campus regulations.
- c) Self Safety: Being unable to exercise care for one’s own safety because one is under the influence of alcohol. This provision shall not apply to circumstances in which the person under the influence was given alcohol without her or his knowledge and permission or if a referral meets the requirements as outlined in the University’s medical amnesty policy.
D.10 Alcohol Policy for Residence Halls and University-approved Housing
- No person under 21 years of age may possess, use or be under the influence of alcohol.
- Providing alcoholic beverages to a person under age 21, whether gratuitously or for sale is prohibited.
- Intoxication, defined as being under the influence of alcohol or any other psychoactive drug to any extent that requires the attention of University staff, causes a disturbance, or is a danger to persons (self and others) or property, is prohibited.
- A resident of legal age living in a University residence hall or floor where alcohol is permitted may possess or store a maximum of twelve (12 oz.) bottles/cans of beer, or two (750 ml) bottles of wine, or one (750 ml) bottle of hard liquor.
- Quantity-dispensing containers, including but not limited to kegs, punch bowls and beer balls, are prohibited.
- Drinking funnels, taps, ice luges or similar devices are prohibited.
- Drinking games or other activities involving rapid and/or excessive consumption are prohibited. Creating, offering, and playing drinking games such as beer pong are considered endangering behaviors and are prohibited.
- A group of more than 10 people in a residence hall room or suite in which alcohol is present is prohibited. In the North Apartments, this applies when there are more than 14 people in an apartment.
- Open alcoholic beverage containers (including cups containing alcohol) are prohibited in any common space, including common corridors, stairwells, bathrooms, kitchens, balconies and lounges.
- Alcohol is not allowed in alcohol-free halls or floors, regardless of one’s age. Residential Life will determine areas designated as alcohol-free.
- Possession of alcohol containers, whether empty or full, is prohibited for persons under age 21.