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Allowing underage drinking over the holidays could cost you

Over the next month, many Connecticut residents will be hosting holiday parties in their homes and other venues, like their country clubs. Some will be for adults only, while others will likely include teens and even younger kids.

Many parents let their kids have holiday parties at their home. They feel safer knowing that the festivities are going on under their own roof rather than someplace else.

Whatever your holiday party plans, if the soiree occurs in your home or under your supervision, it's essential to know the state laws regarding underage drinking and the potential penalties for providing alcohol to a minor.

In Connecticut, it's illegal to knowingly allow a minor to possess alcohol. The law covers alcohol possession on any private property, including homes. While a first-time offense doesn't carry serious criminal penalties, subsequent violations could get you a $500 fine and even jail time of up to a year.

An adult who serves alcohol to a minor or allows a minor to consume alcohol could also face civil liability. Even though Connecticut doesn't have a "social host" law, as some states do, our Supreme Court has ruled that hosts can still be held liable for any injuries or damage caused to the minor or others as a result of a minor's alcohol consumption. If something tragic, such as a drunk driving accident or alcohol poisoning, occurs, that liability could be substantial.

If a person is accused of allowing a minor to have alcohol, the circumstances are important. For example, if you made reasonable efforts to prevent or stop the alcohol possession, took away the alcohol from the minor or called his or her parents, you may be able to avoid criminal charges. An experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney can provide guidance.

Of course, if a young person is determined to sneak a bottle into a party, it may be difficult to avoid unwanted alcohol in your home. That's why it's essential to chaperone your kids' parties, and those where kids are present. It's more important to keep kids safe than to be the "fun" parent.

Source: Drugfree.org, "Underage Drinking in the Home," Josie Feliz, accessed Nov. 29, 2016

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