The Risk of Underage Drinking Parties in Fairfield County
Almost every parent has faced the question “can I have some friends over?’ from one of their kids. This article isn’t to tell you how to parent or how to answer the question (well, maybe it is a little). Just be aware of the potential risks involved. Police in the Fairfield County Towns are arresting more parents than ever on the charge of Permitting or Failure to Halt Underage Drinking in violation of Connecticut General Statutes 30-89a. The law has been on the books for a while but enforcement has been expanded. There are many reasons for why this increase in arrests is occurring, but all that is important is that they are - so be aware. If you allow a party to take place and there is underage drinking, regardless of whether you had “actual” knowledge, and the police arrive because of a noise complaint then any person over the age of 21 (yes, adult children can be charged as well) that is at home runs the real risk of being arrested if the police believe the size and extent of the party made it unreasonable to claim that the adults at home didn’t know.
The law – “No person having possession of, or exercising dominion and control over, any dwelling unit or private property shall (1) knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence permit any minor to possess alcoholic liquor in violation of subsection (b) of section 30-89 in such dwelling unit or on such private property, or (2) knowing that any minor possesses alcoholic liquor in violation of subsection (b) of section 30-89 in such dwelling unit or on such private property, fail to make reasonable efforts to halt such possession. For the purposes of this subsection, “minor” means a person under twenty-one years of age. Any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.” A Class A misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
There are two ways to violate the law. 1. Permitting minors to drink; and 2. Failing to halt the drinking once you should have known about it. Parents can no longer adopt the “what I don’t know can’t hurt me” attitude and safely stay inside or up in their room. It can hurt you. I can argue at court for you about whether you should have known, or when does a person have dominion and control of a dwelling, but that all takes place after you have been arrested, processed, been in the paper, and likely shamed on social media by the Facebook police. So, if you allow a party you better be diligent or be prepared to face the consequences.
There are many other social host liability issues and underage drinking issues we will discuss in later articles. For a discussion of what to do if you have one of these parties anyway and a child gets sick see my colleague, Matthew Maddox’s article at https://www.themaddoxlawfirm.com/connecticuts-good-samaritan-drug-law/.
Have you been accused of crime or serious motor vehicle violation? The stakes are now higher for individuals charged with alcohol related crimes. If you are facing charges, it is more important than ever that you secure a lawyer who will navigate your case through the court system. Come to Bayer & Black, P.C. to work with an award-winning criminal defense attorney in Fairfield County.
Call us today at (203) 762-0751 to find out more.