Maryland official criticized for ignoring underage drinking

All across America, underage drinking is a relatively common occurrence. Curious teenagers often sample alcohol at least once before they are of legal age, and drinking on a regular basis is also far from uncommon. In some cases, this is viewed as normal teenage activity, and though not encouraged, it is at least tolerated as a part of the teenager’s exploration.

Yet, it must not be forgotten that underage drinking is illegal in the United States. Teens accused of possessing alcohol will face heavy fines that often increase with the number of repeated charges. Here in Maryland, a minor in possession is a misdemeanor offense, meaning any convictions will be shown on the teen’s criminal record.

The law, then, treats underage drinking as a very serious issue, even though it is quite a common thing. The public opinion about underage drinking is mixed; though some families accept it as inevitable, others view it as extremely objectionable.

This debate recently centered around the figure of the Maryland Attorney General, who was recently spotted in a photograph of a teenage party attended by his son. The son had visited a beach house for “beach week” with a number of other high school friends. The AG was photographed visiting the house during a drinking party, which he apparently did nothing to stop. He later questioned whether he had a “moral imperative” to put a stop the party.

The debate over the Attorney General’s responsibilities will continue, though the illegality of the party seems certain. One attorney noted that although parents have the ability to give their teenagers permission to drink in their homes, they cannot allow other people’s children to drink on the premises. Any underage teen caught at such a party could be subject to a misdemeanor charge.

Source:  The Baltimore Sun, “Gansler says he made ‘a mistake’” Erin Cox and Michael Dresser, Oct. 24, 2013