JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Hosting a party for minors at your home and providing the booze doesn’t make it safer. It makes it illegal in Mississippi.
That’s what the Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control says happened earlier this month in Guntown at a post-homecoming bonfire. Agents say 41-year-old Andrea Jones was right there as anywhere between 75-100 teens partied on her property.
“Mixing with the young people," explained ABC Chief of Enforcement Rusty Hanna. "Talking to them. Very much aware of what was going on. Several ice chests full of beer was 20-30 feet from the front porch of the house. There was a bonfire in the front yard. She was mingling and having a good time.”
ABC Chief of Enforcement Rusty Hanna says it’s an issue they’ve seen before. And parents must understand it won’t make them the “popular parent”.
“This was midnight when we arrived," said Hanna. "These kids weren’t going to take an Uber home. They were going to drive themselves home that night. We very well could’ve saved a life or two.”
Jones is facing 14 charges under the social host law, one for each of the teens still in possession of alcohol when agents arrived. They were also arrested. Jones, though, faces a thousand dollar fine and up to six months in jail per charge.
“It’ll come a time when you’re able to do those things openly," said Linda Thomas when asked about her reaction to the case. "But for the parents to suggest it’s ok, I’m not with that.”
Those who work on underage drinking prevention say both teens and parents often times aren’t seeing the full picture.
“Studies show those who start drinking early, so around 15 years old or so, they’re going to be 4 times more likely to develop an alcohol or drug issue in the future as adults," said Mack Pampley, prevention coordinator with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of the Central Mississippi Area.
If you have information concerning potential violations of the social host law, call ABC Enforcement at 601-923-7630.