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Social host liability for underage drunk drivers in Connecticut

On Behalf of | Oct 25, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

When you’ve been involved in a wreck with a drunk driver, it’s only natural to be angry and frustrated. You’re anger and frustration may be compounded, however, if you find out that the person who hit you shouldn’t have even had access to the alcohol in their system because they’re still underage.

While you want to hold the actual driver who injured you accountable for their own actions, it’s not unreasonable to do the same to the person who permitted the underage use of alcohol on their premises.

Social hosts cannot shirk their responsibilities

As far back you care to go in history, you’ll find stories about young people being reckless and impulsive – and that hasn’t changed. There are some very good reasons that the law restricts the use of alcohol to those 21 years of age and older.

Unfortunately, there are always people who seem inclined to flout the rules. Whether it’s an older friend who holds a party where not all of the attendees are above legal age or a parent who likes being the “cool” mom or dad, social hosts aren’t always great about enforcing the rules on sobriety.

In this state, C.G.S. § 30-89a makes it illegal for a social host to “knowingly or recklessly permit any minor to possess” alcohol on their premises. It’s also illegal to simply “turn a blind eye” if they catch someone underage drinking without their permission. In those situations, they’re expected to make a reasonable effort to put the brakes on the situation.

While the state may pursue criminal charges against the social host for their actions (or inaction), that doesn’t prevent you from pursuing a judgment against them in civil court. If your injuries are extensive and your property damage is significant, you may need to go that route to fully recover your financial footing, since that can open the door to additional compensation beyond what the driver’s insurance will provide.

If you’ve been in a wreck with a drunk driver, seeking legal guidance can help you obtain the maximum compensation you’re rightfully owed.