Senior Prom and the CT Social Host Law

by Tony Sheffy, founding partner at The Law Office of Sheffy, Mazzaccaro, DePaolo & Denigris, LLP

ツ White teeth smiling – girls in gowns of every spring color and young men in black tuxedos line up for aツ final group shot before heading to the prom.ツ Cameras flash – pictures capturing the beauty of youth and recording pride in kids who are almost adults.

by Tony Sheffy, founding partner at The Law Office of Sheffy, Mazzaccaro, DePaolo & Denigris, LLP

ツ White teeth smiling – girls in gowns of every spring color and young men in black tuxedos line up for aツ final group shot before heading to the prom.ツ Cameras flash – pictures capturing the beauty of youth and recording pride in kids who are almost adults.

ツ Later, pictures spread out on the desk at my law office; black and whites taken hours after the prom by the investigating officer.ツ These pictures show the remains of a car and graphically record the horror of a motor vehicle accident following a post prom party.ツ The officer窶冱 report states that the car with four teenagers is traced to a house party just up the street from where the car rolled down an embankment after striking a tree.

ツ It is weary looking at these colorless photographs. ツIt is common knowledge that every year several hundred young people in United States will die on prom night.ツ Many will be coming from post prom house parties.ツ In Connecticut, teens are served alcohol by adults despite the penalties imposed by Connecticut窶冱 Social Hosting Law.ツ Connecticut law makes it illegal to host a house party where alcohol is served to anyone under the legal drinking age.ツ It is illegal for an underage person to possess alcohol on public or private property.ツ To the surprise of many, this includes possession of alcohol in a private home.

ツ A minor found in possession of alcohol at a private house party could face a fine. The underage person could also lose their driver窶冱 license.ツツ More importantly, teens should know that having a house party when their parents are not at home could expose their parents to civil liability for damages should a guest leave the party and cause an accident.ツ The family窶冱 assets, including their home, could be put directly at risk.

ツ The law also prohibits parent from hosting a party where alcohol is served to underage guests.ツ In fact, the law imposes a legal duty on parents to take reasonable steps to stop an underage party in progress. Beyond the public embarrassment of appearing in the police blotter, parents hosting an underage party may face a stiff fine.

ツ Despite the sobering statistics of prom night tragedies, Southington STEPS is not giving up, but is in fact leaning into the problem.ツ STEPS is asking students attending the prom and their parents to take the 窶弃rom Promise.窶ツ By signing the promise students agree they will not drink, and parents/guardians agree that they will not host parties where there is underage drinking. While these are two different promises, STEPS believes that they are equally important in promoting a safe night for all in the town of Southington.

ツ We know the cost. We know the law.ツ We have to choose.ツ Pick up the challenge put down by STEPS and take the Prom Promise.ツ Choose white teeth and black tuxedos over black and white accident scene photos.ツ To STEPS a big thank you.ツツ 窶So shines a good deed in a weary world.窶