Underage drinking in Oak Bay PD’s sights

Adults can be held responsible for incidents occurring under their watch and afterward

High school grads may feel more like adults when they leave their secondary institutions behind for the last time, but Oak Bay police want to remind them the law doesn’t see them that way.

The department’s officers deal with more underage drinking incidents at this time of year than any other, said Deputy Chief Kent Thom.

“They do happen all year long, but we do see more as kids get hyped up for school ending,” he said.

The fact minors are doing more drinking at this time of year may not be a huge surprise. But in several instances, police have responded to parties where adults were present and aware that minors were consuming alcohol onsite.

According to Thom, this often happens with parents who have the mindset that their kids are going to drink whether they have permission or not, and feel that at least if they are supervised, any potential problems that may result can be mitigated.

“Parents just don’t understand to what degree it could come back to bite them,” Thoma said.

According to the B.C. Liquor and Control Licensing Act, not only is providing alcohol to minors prohibited, but a person must not permit a minor to consume liquor in or at a place under his or her control.

If found to be in violation, they could be required to appear in court and may have to pay a penalty of at least $500. Any youth found in possession of alcohol could face a $230 ticket.

In the past week, Oak Bay police officers responded to three separate calls relating to out-of-control parties where minors were found to be drinking. One was on Falkland Road, one on Oliver Street and another on Foul Bay Road.

There were adults present at the Falkland party, the largest of the three – none of them were ticketed. Thom said the department looks at each incident separately, noting that educating the guilty parties is often just as effective as hitting them in the wallet.

Adults who permit minors to drink on their property can be held responsible, not only if something happened to a minor while at the party, but at any point on the way home as well.

“It’s often not a fine or penalty that causes them to step back, it’s potentially impacting a life that does it,” Thom said.