Some parents in Connecticut take a cynical view of teen drinking. They figure that teens are going to drink anyway, so they might as well provide their children and their friends with alcohol in their home where they can keep an eye on them rather than have them sneak around behind the parents’ backs.
According to American Addiction Centers, however, teenagers whose parents set boundaries on underage drinking, and impose penalties if the teens exceed those boundaries, are significantly less likely to drink. Furthermore, parents who knowingly provide teenagers with alcohol risk running afoul of Connecticut’s social host laws, which can result in criminal and sometimes civil penalties.
However, if you have made it clear to your children that neither they nor their friends have permission to drink alcohol in your home, and they sneak behind your back and do so anyway, are you still liable under social host laws? Possibly. When it comes to social hosting, the ownership of the property on which the drinking took place is more significant than who provided the alcohol.
As a parent and property owner in Connecticut, you have a responsibility to make reasonable efforts to prevent teenagers, whether your own or someone else’s, from gaining access to alcohol. Therefore, if you leave your alcoholic spirits out in the open, or in an unlocked liquor cabinet, and your teenager and his/her friends access it in your absence, you may still be liable under social host laws even though you did not specifically give the teens the alcohol and did not know what was going on.
However, if you keep the alcoholic beverages in a locked liquor cabinet and a teen breaks the lock to access it, your social host liability may be limited or nonexistent, depending on whether the court deems locking your liquor cabinet to be a reasonable effort at deterring teens from accessing it.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.