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Letter: Wilton Police Chief on Underage Drinking

WILTON, Conn. – The following is a letter for Wilton Police Chief Michael Lombardo about underage drinking.

With recent events published regarding underage drinking and warmer weather just around the corner, it is timely to address the laws in Connecticut regarding underage drinking. What I hope to accomplish is to educate the community on what the police can and cannot do regarding this topic pursuant to law.

In Connecticut, possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21 in a public or private place is prohibited by law unless a minor child is accompanied by parent or legal guardian who has given their permission to such a minor child.

If any person, regardless of age provides alcohol to a minor who is not their child they can be charged with the crime of providing alcohol to a minor. Even if you host a party and do not provide alcohol to a minor, you can be charged with hosting the party or failing to halt the party where alcohol is present. However, to be charged with such a crime you must have had knowledge that the underage drinking was taking place.

If an officer locates alcohol and minors are present, the officer must be able to articulate that a minor was in possession of alcohol not merely present. Police officers in Connecticut can made an arrest of someone only if the totality of circumstances they know at the time rises to the level of probable cause that a crime has been committed. This level of cause required to make an arrest is the same for all offences allegedly committed in Connecticut.

If a person under 21 years of age is charged with Possession of Alcohol they will also be subjected to an administrative suspension of their driver’s license by the Connecticut Department of Motor vehicles for a period of up to 60 days.

Homeowners should also be aware that in addition to any criminal sanctions there may be civil ramifications for permitting alcohol consumption by a minor. Some homeowner policies will not cover civil liability in these cases.

The Wilton Police Department’s goal is to provide professional police services to the community.

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