Social Host Law Can Result in Hefty Fines and Jail Time for Homeowners
Everyone knows minors under 21 years old who are found to possess alcohol can face criminal penalties, but many people are not aware parents and other adults can also face criminal penalties for permitting underage drinking on their property. The so-called Connecticut “Social Host Law” was first enacted in 2006 and strengthened in 2012, providing fewer loopholes and stricter penalties.
The law that was amended, Section 30-89a of the Connecticut Statutes, prohibits anyone owning or controlling a residence or other private property from knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, permitting a minor to possess alcohol at the residence or other private property. Those individuals are also required by the law to make reasonable efforts to stop the possession of alcohol by a minor. A person who violates the Social Host Law can be found guilty of a class A misdemeanor, for which the penalties are up to a year in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
As written, any adult, including a parent, family member, or friend, can be held responsible under the law. The underage drinking does not have to occur in the home; it can occur anywhere on a person’s property. The adult does not have to furnish the alcohol to the minors in order to be held liable for underage drinking. The adult can also be held responsible even if not present when the underage drinking occurs.The Connecticut Social Host Law, as strengthened in 2012, makes it difficult for homeowners to avoid triggering the law if underage drinking occurs in their home or on their property. It’s also unclear what “reasonable efforts” are required under the statute to stop a minor from possessing alcohol. If you have been charged with a violation of the Social Host Law, contact an experienced Connecticut criminal lawyer to help you through the daunting process.