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It’s the time of year when your nearly grown son or daughter is graduating from high school, and you know what that means: Graduation Parties! Remembering all the fun you had back in the day, and wanting to be a “cool” parent, you may be considering throwing a party for your son or daughter and their friends that includes alcohol. After all, you reason, as long as I take the keys and they all spend the night, what’s the harm? If I don’t do it, these kids will just be off drinking AND driving somewhere else anyway.
If you are even considering a scenario like the one I outlined above, think again! These sorts of parties have a tendency to get out of control, and the noise alone may be enough make your neighbors call the police. Kids who aren’t experienced drinking alcohol have a tendency to over-indulge, with obnoxious, messy, and sometimes life threatening results. How are you going to explain a midnight trip to the emergency room to get some kid’s stomach pumped to his mother or father the next day?
As if you needed more reasons, consider this: you could go to jail! Don’t believe me? Just ask John Gurtler, Jr. Don’t recognize that name? I bet you would recognize his voice! He is the Public Address Announcer at Buffalo Bills games. It seems that Mr. Gurtler was having thoughts along the lines of the scenario I outlined above for his son’s post-prom party. All his son’s friends, more than 80 in all, were invited back to the Gurtler residence for a night of merriment and booze. All was going great until the police arrived at their Orchard Park, NY home, observed scores of obviously under age-and over-dressed teens pouring beers from multiple kegs scattered about the yard, and decided to intervene. Mr. Gurtler, Mrs. Gurtler and their teenage son have all been arrested and charged with Unlawfully Dealing With A Child for providing alcohol to minors. They will face one count for each of the kids present (at least the ones the police could catch). Each count carries a potential penalty of up one year in jail AND a $1,000.00 fine.
This is a case where jail time could very easily be imposed, too. Because Mr. Gurtler is a prominent individual, and because we are on the verge of graduation season, the judge may very well want to send a message to the community that this type of behavior will not be tolerated and will face stiff punishment. It would be the judge’s hope that the publicity associated with this case and the penalty doled out would dissuade any one else from doing something similar. Legally, this is known as general deterrance.
Let Mr. Gurtler’s mistake be a lesson to all of us here in the Twin Tiers.
For those of you interested in all the gory details of what the police found upon their arrival, I have attached a link from The Buffalo News story covering the arrest below.
Thanks for reading,
Adam M. Gee, Esq.
New York and Pennsylvania Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901