On July 1, 2006, a new Virginia law took effect, making it illegal for adults to serve alcohol to minors in their homes. Violators face misdemeanor charges and fines. Governor Timothy Kaine signed the bill in the spring, with overwhelming support by the General Assembly. According to the bill’s main sponsor, Del. Brian Moran, ” This would require more personal responsibility from parents.” The legal drinking age in Virginia is 21.
The law’s purpose is to deter adults from allowing teenagers to consume alcohol in or near their homes. The most likey scenario where this law would be enforced is at a large party where the parents are present and they either paid for or served the alcohol to the teenagers. Exceptions are allowed for small family gatherings, guests over the age of 21 and guests accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse over 21.
The Virginia General Assembly website provides the full text of this new “social host liability” law. Law enforcement officials generally supported the bill but have questioned the feasibility of monitoring and enforcing this particular law. However, lawmakers endorsing the law indicated that its value is more in prevention: “If parents are aware they are breaking the law, they might be less likely to serve alcohol to minors.”