What parents need to know now about the new Social Host Laws
On the last day of the session, Connecticut’s Senate passed a significant amendment to the state’s existing Social Host Law widening the list of prohibitions and strengthening the penalties if any resident is convicted of permitting minors to drink in their home. House Bill 5360 had been passed by the House on May 5, 2012. It will go to the Governor’s desk to be signed in the next few weeks.
The amendment was sponsored by Representative John Frey (R – Ridgefield) who was motivated by the deaths of two minors in separate car accidents after each had been seen drinking alcohol at house parties where parents were thought to be present. In both cases, Social Host charges couldn’t be brought since there wasn’t sufficient evidence that the homeowners knew that underage drinking was occurring.
According to the Office of Legislative Research, the resulting bill “prohibits anyone who owns or controls private property…from recklessly or with criminal negligence, permitting any minor to illegally possess alcohol…in addition to existing law’s prohibition on knowingly allowing such possession.
The law also requires such a person who knows that a minor possesses alcohol illegally to make reasonable efforts to stop it. The bill appears to extend liability for failure to halt possession to a person who acts recklessly or with criminal negligence.”
Penalties increase as well, even for a first violation, from an infraction to a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in prison, up to a $ 2,000 fine, or both.
If the Governor signs the amendment, it will go into effect on October 1, 2012.
Here is the actual language:
“Section 1. Section 30-89a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2012):
(a) 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) 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.
(b) Any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this section be guilty of a class A misdemeanor. “