Understanding Connecticut’s Social Host Law

Firm News On Thursday, March 19, 2015

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 PC, we understand that underage drinking poses a significant ongoing problem in Connecticut and across the nation. But did you know that you could be held legally responsible if you allow your child or his or her friends to possess alcohol at your home?

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.

All of this places you in the precarious position of both watching out for too much alcohol consumption on the part of adult party guests and being extra vigilant when your teenager hosts a party. You should never allow him or her to do so unless you are at home. It also remains your responsibility to see to it not only that your teenager serves no alcohol at his or her party, but also that no guest brings alcohol with him.

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

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