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Understanding Connecticut’s social host law

Particularly heading into the end of the school year, it is common for teens in New Haven to host and attend social gatherings. Although the legal drinking age throughout Connecticut is 21-years-old, some minors choose to consume alcohol at such get-togethers. Sometimes, parents may think they are doing the right thing by providing a place for their teenage children to drink and party with their friends. Other times, parents may not be home, and are therefore unaware of the illegal underage alcohol consumption that is occurring in their homes. In either situation, however, they could be held responsible if a teen who has ingested alcoholic beverages in their home is involved in an accident.

At Loughlin FitzGerald, P.C., we often consult with people who have been injured in drunk driving accidents involving teens. Often, these victims are unaware of the state of Connecticut’s social host law.

Connecticut’s Public Act number 12-199 pertains to those who possess or have control and dominion over a dwelling or personal property. Commonly referred to as the social host law, this act may apply to teens who throw parties or host gatherings, as well as their parents. It makes it illegal for people to recklessly, knowingly or through criminal negligence allow people under 21-years-old to have alcohol on their property. As such, they must take reasonable steps to prevent or stop those who are underage from consuming alcohol in their domiciles or on their property.

With few exceptions, people who violate the social host law could be charged with a class A misdemeanor. The first offense is generally considered an infraction. For subsequent offenses, however, people could face fines of up to $500, as well as possible imprisonment for up to one year. Beyond the criminal legal ramifications, Connecticut’s social host law may also carry civil legal consequences. Those who are injured in a collision involving an underage drunk driver may take legal action against the party’s host. They could choose to seek financial compensation for damages, including medical expenses, resulting from the drunk driving accident.

For more information about collisions involving alcohol-impaired drivers, please visit our drunk driving accidents page.

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