Anderson Cooper: Parents Arrested for Underage Drinking
Meet Bill and Cynthia, an unassuming Mountain View, CA couple who joined Anderson via satellite feed to discuss their legal issues. As it turned out, the couple allowed their son to host 30 or so of his closest friends in their basement one night. Most of the kids showed up by 9pm and Bill made a point to look around the basement numerous times that evening, checking for alcohol or other illegal substances. That evening, Cynthia had a bad back and difficultly going down the stairs so the two parents were essentially at half strength on the night in question.
The police showed up at 11:15pm after someone called about underage drinking. Bill was immediately placed in handcuffs and led outside the home. Cynthia, back pain and all, was also cuffed – which led to severe pain and discomfort. All told, Bill was charged with 44 counts of contributing the delinquency of minors, each of which carry a $2500 fine and one year in jail. If you’re doing the math at home, that’s 44 years in jail and a wad of cash.
Granted, both parents admitted they should have done more, but had some major issues with the way the entire night went down. The cops did not use a Breathalyzer on any child, and all were allowed to go home to their parents. The parents, however, got the handcuff treatment.
Anderson Cooper: Underage Drinking
Enter Sunny Hostin and Renee Syler. The former is a legal expert and one of Anderson’s friends from CNN, while the latter is a blogger on everything parenting.
Sunny was quick to point out the social host laws. Essentially, you can be criminally or civilly responsible for what people do in your home, even if you aren’t present at the time, i.e. knowing your child is drinking at home is enough. While it can help that you looked for signs of alcohol, you can’t put blinders on and expect to receive leniency from the court.
Renee was quick to agree and felt strongly that parents do indeed put blinders on. You may want to trust your kids, but you need to trust AND verify.
Cynthia tried to state her case but Renee fired off a comeback that struck me as a little rude. She told Cynthia that it was her house and that she had to be more responsible. Bill chimed in, saying that they knew they were responsible but had received good feedback from the community. To him, it didn’t make sense that he was arrested. As soon as he mentioned an extra step he had taken as a parent, to take keys from the children, the two experts exploded with an “oh my god” moment on the assumption the parents must have known what was going on. Anderson quickly cut the segment short as tensions were clearly building between the parents and experts.