Parents reminded about liability for hosting teen parties with alcohol
Groton — The Groton Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, also known as GASP, is reminding parents and others in the community about the state’s Social Host Law, which prohibits any owner of private property, including homeowners, from permitting anyone under age 21 to possess alcohol on their property.
That means parents are legally liable if an underage drinking party occurs at their home, Carolyn Wilson, health program coordinator for Ledge Light Health District, which coordinates GASP, said Thursday.
“We’re trying to make it the norm that parents know about the law and don’t do it,” she said. “Parents are starting to get the message that it’s not just a ‘kids will be kids’ thing.”
In a news release, GASP reminded parents that the law requires anyone who knows that a minor possesses alcohol take reasonable steps to stop it. Under the act, violation of the law is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of one year in prison or a fine of up to $2,000. Marijuana and illegal prescription drug use are not mentioned explicitly in the law, but should also be taken seriously and their use prevented by parents, GASP said.
Wilson said that parents should be aware that even if they are away for the weekend and their child hosts a party where alcohol is served that they did not know about beforehand, they can still be held legally liable.
Town and city policy are working with GASP to increase enforcement during party season, the news release said.
“The Groton Police Department takes underage drinking and drug violations very seriously,” said Lt. John Varone. “The younger a person is when he or she starts using alcohol or drugs, the greater the risk of problems later in life." The department will continue to actively prevent underage alcohol and drug use, he said.
Varone urged parents to talk to their children when it comes to drug and alcohol use.
“Establish curfews, monitor your child’s activities and clearly communicate your expectations of no drug use or alcohol use under 21,” he said.
Anyone with information about an underage drinking or drug use party is urged to call Groton’s Party Patrol Hotline at (860) 445-5291. Residents are also urged to report underage drinking or drug use to police.
GASP also encouraged teens to participate in drug and alcohol-free graduation parties hosted at many schools, and for parents and community members to volunteer at these events.
Information about hosting drug and alcohol-free teen parties can be found at: www.bethewall.org.