Teens Get Drunk, Parents Go to Jail?

Social host laws have spread, making parents criminally liable despite not buying the booze.
3:00 | 06/14/13

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

More information on this video
Enhanced full screen
Explore related content
Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Teens Get Drunk, Parents Go to Jail?
What's a party without entertainment? Just recently, some r rated pictures popped up on facebook of strippers supposedly hired by a mother for her 16-year-old son's birthday. So, how does that compare to a high school paerlt with no strippers but lots of drinking? That's more common and potenti potentially more dangerous. But for whom? The kids or their parents. Reporter: Prom and graduation season have arrived and along with the dresses, corsages, caps and gowns come the parties, raucous teen bashes that can strike fear into the heart of any parent. Paula and barry spencer know the feeling well. For them, last june 16th started out as a day of celebration. There was a lot of jumping up and down. A lot of jumping. Yeah, yeah. It was, it was amazing. Reporter: Their 18-year-old son nicky, along with his high school baseball team, had just won the state championship. It was a big day for the small town of falmouth, maine. Nicky asked if he could have a celebration at our home. I didn't know necessarily what the party would entail, but I mean, it's assumed that people are gonna be crazy and pumped up and hyper after a big win. Reporter: The spencers enjoyed entertaining their son's large group of friends, but say they would never cross the line like the dad in this "what would you do?" Scenario, who actually buys alcohol for his teenage son. You never threw a party for your kids? Never. I have four of them. Never. My oldest is 30. Never. It's the wrong message to send them. Reporter: The spencers say they were definitely looking to avoid sending that message. What were the ground rules? He actually told us, "we'll keep it to fifty." And I said, "nothing illegal." Reporter: Those would prove to be famous last words. Barry came to me and said, "i'm starting to see people sneaking in alcohol." People from other towns started hearing about it, and we started having people show up who I didn't recognize, and kind of got a little out of control. Reporter: Around 10:30 p.M. An anonymous tip comes into the falmouth police that there are more than soft drinks being served at the spencers' home. Sergeant george savidge was on duty. When I pulled up to the house, a gentleman came out and identified himself as mr. Spencer, and he said that he was hosting an alcohol- and chemical-free party. Reporter: Sergeant savidge leaves, but partygoers keep arriving. I saw lots of people coming with just boxes and boxes of beer in the woods. So, when the police first came to your house, you already knew things were getting a little dicey. Mm-hmm. Reporter: It was a little more than you could handle. Yes. Reporter: Why aren't you walking through the house saying, "time to go home?" I felt like I invited these kids to our home to celebrate, and I didn't have clear evidence that they were all drinking. I also really felt at the time that if I walked around and said, "all right, everybody, we're shutting it down," they'd run to their cars or do something that's more dangerou than what they were actually doing. Reporter: So, you thought it was safer to let them stay and continue to party at your house? But not drink. Reporter: At 11:30, another falmouth police officer makes a traffic stop near the house. In the car he finds one of the passengers is a drunken underage passenger who says she's just come from the party. Cops make a beeline back to the spencers'. How had the scene changed? At this point, it looked like there was a party going on. Reporter: Not just a party, a rager that has ballooned to around 100 rowdy kids openly drinking in the backyard when police descend to break it up. It was just mayhem. They started breathalizing any kids that were trying to leave. The first thing that i remember was a policeman saying that my dad was going to jail. Reporter: Going to jail even though the spencers didn't provide a drop of the alcohol? It's happening to parents all over the country, like this mom who was sentenced to six in a massachusetts jail for hosting underage drinkers, even though she claims she was duped by duplicitous teens. And this tennessee school teacher was arrested and then fired for the post prom drinking party she says she unwittingly threw. Denials aside, district attorney stephanie anderson believed the spencers were the latest example of parents turning a blind eye to tipsy teenagers. There was no real attempt to prevent underage drinking at that home. Reporter: She points to the police report from that night which describes a scene fit for a frat house, complete with a teenager passed out on a neighbor's lawn. They describe the scene at your house that night as, quote, "an animal house." An animal house. Mm-hmm. Reporter: They say there were beer cans and vomit everywhere. That's just not true. Reporter: But anderson didn't buy their story and she went after the spencers, charging them with allowing minors to consume alcohol in their home, a crime that now had them facing jail time. They wanted to be the cool parents. 97.9 is portland's number one hit music station. Reporter: The story quickly got the attention of the media. I mean, can you imagine at that moment how you're going to feel? I'm going to get in trouble. I'm going to get arrested. Wrong! Wrong, wrong. 21 and over you can drink. 21 and under you can't drink. It's the law. Reporter: A few clicks on youtube illustrates the ever more devious and dangerous ways kids are finding to get drunk, from eyeball shots, to vodka gummy bears to downing hand sanitizer.It may make you wo whether adult-supervised drinking parties are such a bad idea. What's more dangerous? Having my kids down in the basement where I know they're going to drink a few beers or having them go out to the softball field at night and drink where there's nobody to keep an eye on anything? In this scenario, there's no difference at all. There wasn't anyone there to keep an eye on anything. Reporter: But anderson had a hard time convincing a jury of that. When it did go to trial, it was split down the middle. Yes. Six to six. Yeah. Reporter: Did that surprise you? No, not terribly. It's a very divisive issue. Reporter: Rather than retry the spencers, anderson offered them a deal -- no jail time, but they would have to pay $17,000 in fines and restitution, write a letter of apology in the local paper and serve 100 hours of community service each. You know that there are critics who say that you were overzealous in this, that you have a cause you're promoting. Well, underage drinking is one of my causes. That's true. Reporter: But do you really think you're going to stop underage drinking? No. I don't think I'm going to stop underage drinking. Reporter: So then, what have you done? Haven't you chased it back to the unsupervised, unchaperoned location? Well, I think what this case did was, I think it got the issue out in the open. I think parents are putting themselves in the position of the spencers and saying, "what should I do differently in if I'm going to have a party I should have chaperones. We did not intend for kids to drink. It happened, and I'm sorry that it hned. Reporter: Are you ever going to host another party? Our 12-year-old is already asking to have a end-of-year pool party. And they're sixth graders. I'm sure that we can manage that. Reporter: You sure? I would maybe ask a parent or two to stick around. Next -- d is for dad. Or maybe just dumb. Because he's now starring in the videos that are going viral. Here's another dumb dad. Look at that. Y bottom line seems to be, don't be an idiot. Next on "with parents like these."

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"id":19408594,"title":"Teens Get Drunk, Parents Go to Jail?","duration":"3:00","description":"Social host laws have spread, making parents criminally liable despite not buying the booze.","section":"2020","mediaType":"Default"}