After a recent uptick in Wilton of underage drinking parties and related arrests of the adult homeowners where the parties were held, town officials wanted to draw attention to the risks and consequences of hosting events where teens have access to alcohol.
The dangers to teens associated with underage drinking are serious — from alcohol binging and poisoning, and a higher risk of addiction, to increased incidents of violence, sexual assault and teen death.
The issue also carries significant legal implications for both teens and the adults involved. Wilton Social Services Director Sarah Heath and Wilton Police Capt. Rob Cipolla have an important message.
Now that school has started and we are all busy with fall activities, with our children and otherwise, it is easy to forget, or not understand the laws surrounding hosting a party. To specify, hosting a party with teenagers can be challenging and you may feel put on the spot to make your child happy or create a fun social event for them. The Hub CT has a great article on the topic of “Underage Drinking and What it Means for Your Family”.
We understand this can be challenging, and we want you to know the laws. Our Wilton Police Department can help you to understand them; there are infraction violations pertaining to minors in possession of alcohol, but the below is what is dubbed the “Social Host law” in Connecticut and is considered a misdemeanor offense:
Sec. 30-89a. Permitting minor to illegally possess liquor in dwelling unit or on private property or failing to halt such illegal possession. Penalty. (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) 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 21 years of age.
(b) Any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor
In other words, the persons in control of the home where underage drinking is occurring, whether an adult or minor, may be arrested. The offense requires an appearance in court and is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. For those 18 years or older, records of arrest are releasable to the media.
As town employees, we strive to support our residents and provide information and referrals when they need help. Please do not hesitate to reach out as we are happy to help you and your family during challenging times, whatever that may mean to you. You can also contact the Wilton Police Department by calling their non-emergency phone number: 203.834.6260.
Sarah Heath MS, MA, LPC