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Apr 29, 2014 12:09 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Pima County Sheriff's deputies hold parents who buy liquor for teens accountable

TUCSON - Between prom, graduation and spring barbeques, this time of year brings families together.

But before hosting your next celebration the Sheriff's Department has a warning. Underage drinkers and anyone supplying liquor to them will be arrested.

If you buy or give alcohol to a minor you could face steep fines or wind up behind bars.

Carmen Cervantes knows the heartbreak underage drinking can cause. Her son, 17-year-old Shane Harvey, unknowingly got in the car with a drunk driver-- a classmate who crashed on Mount Lemmon. It happened on Aug. 10, 2008.

"And he drove down Windy Point at 62 mph, never used his brakes, flipped his car six times where it landed on a big rock and crushed my son," says Cervantes.

Harvey died. The driver survived and is serving a seven year prison sentence.

During the trial, Cervantes learned the driver was impaired by alcohol and marijuana during the judge's line of questioning.

"He said, can I ask you a question? When you were smoking marijuana at home, were your parents home? And he looked at him, and said yes Sir, they were."

When asked how she felt, Cervantes answered: "I felt the parents should have some responsibility in this."

Deputies are now hoping to hold families liable by getting search warrants.

If you're caught giving alcohol to teens, even a sip, you'll be arrested and charged with multiple criminal counts including 'Social Host' and 'Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.' One count for every person under 21 years of age.

If someone is injured or killed, even after leaving your home felony charges can be filed.

"Being a student here at the UA, I've seen a couple instances where students have died because he drank too much," Nick Shelton said.

Shelton, a graduating senior says pool parties and family get-togethers can get out of hand quickly, especially when liquor is supplies by parents.

"I think it just creates a pattern, where if it's okay there, then it's okay anywhere," says Shelton. "So I think it sets a bad example, drinking a lot of alcohol with your parents."

Cervantes adds, "I know a lot of people don't think, especially kids, don't think this will happen to them. That it will be okay. It's not okay."

The Sheriff's Department is warning parents to avoid leaving teens home-alone over night. And they're encouraging parents to let neighbors know when you're out of town.

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