Let's say you walk into a restaurant and order a meal with some alcoholic beverages. At the end of the dinner you pay for your meal and exit the restaurant, leaving some leftover alcoholic drinks on the table. Right after you leave, a teenager approaches the table and drinks the remaining alcohol.

In this scenario, who will be responsible for supplying alcohol to a minor? The person who ordered the meal? The restaurant itself? The teenager, for "stealing" the alcohol?

  • There wouldn't be a uniform rule in the U.S. State regulation of alcohol is quite varied from state to state and sometimes modified by local ordinances as well. Also, it isn't clear what kind of liability (civil v. criminal v. regulatory) is intended when you say "responsible." Normally civil and criminal liability don't apply without a negligent or intentional act, although regulatory liability (for licensing purpose of the restaurant) is sometimes strict without regard to intent. A 17 year old kid might be guilty of drinking underage, a 4 year old kid probably wouldn't be.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 10, 2020 at 23:23
  • For civil liability, we would need more facts about what happened to someone after drinking, because that arises only when someone is harmed. Did the kid drive drunk or get sick? The possibility of child neglect charges, perhaps for parents of the child who are present is also a possibility.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 10, 2020 at 23:25
  • @ohwilleke presume nothing happened besides the minor getting drunk. But underage drinking is illegal on its own in almost every state and so is supplying alcohol to minors. Feb 11, 2020 at 2:03
  • 1
    In Wisconsin a minor can legally drink if accompanied by a parent or spouse of drinking age. There is no lower limit on this, a parent can buy a 10 year old a pint and a shot of whiskey legally in an establishment that serves it. Businesses are not obligated to follow that though, and most won't.
    – Ron Beyer
    Feb 11, 2020 at 5:15


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