Once again, it is time for our children to go back to school. For many parents, these “children” are young adults who will be going off to high school. Some of these parents might be faced with issues involving alcohol and the consumption of alcohol in their homes.
Many times parents want to do what is right and are sometimes conflicted by thoughts of hosting “controlled” parties at their homes, with limited numbers of teens, under strict supervision, where alcohol is served. This plan is nothing short of a recipe for disaster.
This Spring, State Representative John Frey, Ridgefield Police Chief John Roche and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi testified in front of the Judiciary Committee in support of Substitute House Bill No. 5360 that has become Public Act 12-199 which officially revised Connecticut’s Social Host Law. These three gentlemen, one Republican, one Democrat and one Chief Law enforcement officer spoke of the great challenges being faced by teens in situations involving alcohol especially in environments overseen or controlled by parents.
Our legislature met on the last day of the last session and passed a number of bills that included Public Act 12-199, An Act Prohibiting Certain Persons From Allowing Minors To Possess Alcoholic Liquor In Dwelling Units And On Private Property. A minor is defined as a person under 21 years of age.
The passage of this new law was motivated by the death of two teenagers involved in separate car accidents. It was reported that each minor had been seen drinking alcoholic beverages at house parties where parents were thought to be present but evidently there was not enough evidence that either of the parents knew that underage drinking was taking place.
As of October 1, 2012, no person having possession, control or exercising dominion over any dwelling or private property shall knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence permit any minor to possess alcohol or fail to make reasonable efforts to halt such possession. Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
This new law should give parents and others individuals reason to pause before giving in to the idea of hosting or even permitting a party involving alcohol to occur at their property where minors are involved.
Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP, with offices throughout the state. A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a New England Super Lawyer and is the author of numerous books. He is an outspoken advocate for teen driver safety reform and education and as a result was appointed to DMV Commissioner Melody Currey's Advisory Committee on Teen Safe Driving which is investigating proposed national models for parent and teen education and accident prevention. He can be reached at 1(888)CTLAW-00 or by visiting www.hcwlaw.com.