Many teenagers choose to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Even though this is a common occurrence for teens, that doesn’t make it legal. You might think that because these things are so common, the law would go easy on kids when dealing with drug or alcohol issues. But the truth is that drug and alcohol issues are taken seriously and can have serious consequences for your child. On this page, I will discuss the possession offense, as well as other related drug and alcohol issues that a minor might face.
Possession of Drugs/Alcohol
One common crime that minors can be charged with is possession of drugs. In order to be convicted of this charge, the state must prove a few different things. The state must prove that the defendant knew the character of the substance, knew of its presence, and exercised dominion and control over it.
Many times the police will charge a group of youths with possession if they find a drug in their midst. If your child was in the presence of drugs but charged with possession, our law firm can fight this charge on your child’s behalf. Just because you are in the presence of drugs doesn’t mean you possess them, and your child shouldn’t be punished because some other child had something on them. Many time, we see all kids in a car charged with possession of drugs when only one of them actually had them. When that happens, you MUST fight it or risk your child having a record for drug possession.
In addition to drug possession, children can also be charged with alcohol possession. Alcohol possession is as simple as it sounds, and the law is called “Purchasing liquor or making false statement to procure liquor by person forbidden to purchase prohibited. Possessing liquor by minor on public or private property prohibited…” (CGS 30-89). One of the interesting things about this charge is that often the police destroy the alcohol rather than take it into custody, and many times the state cannot prove the beverage was actually alcohol. If you simply plead guilty, your child will lose their driver’s license for 30 days AND have it noted on their driving history (which will commonly increase your auto insurance).
Because minors can be charged with purchasing and possessing alcohol, they can be charged with DUIs. CGS 14-227g states that, “Operation by person under twenty-one years of age while blood alcohol content exceeds two-hundredths of one percent” will result in a DUI for a minor.
Alcohol and Underage Parties
The law in Connecticut for underage drinking makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcohol anywhere in public or private places. So even if your child is drinking at a party on private property, they can still face the consequences of underage drinking. The first offense is an infraction resulting in a fine. There is a zero tolerance policy for minors in Connecticut when it comes to drinking.
Another big problem occurs when parents try to throw their child a party with alcohol. It might make sense to you to have your child and their friends drinking in a safe, controlled environment. But if you provide alcohol for minors and you get caught, you face criminal charges. You are not only risking the safety of the teenagers involved, but risking your own freedom by throwing an underage party. It is best to avoid this situation altogether.
Another common thing for minors to do is get a fake ID. It can be hard when you want to go to clubs and bars with your friends, but you are not 21. Even if kids just want to hang out with their friends and aren’t trying to drink, they should not buy fake IDs.
Having a fake ID is a felony charge in the state of Connecticut. Your child will face serious consequences, even if it seems like “everyone is doing it.” Talk to your child about the dangers of a fake ID.
Since 9/11 the prosecutors take fake ID charges very seriously and we have seen young people in court plead GUILTY and get a CRIMINAL RECORD for a simple fake ID they had to get into a bar!
Minors under age 21 cannot possess or consume any alcohol. That being said, parents know that their teenager will come into contact with alcohol during their high school and college years. Connecticut takes the issue of underage teenage drinking very seriously. Our legislators have passed laws that restrict your teenager’s right to drive if they are caught in possession of alcohol. Our laws provide for strict criminal penalties, fines, and DMV license suspensions for these offenses.
If your teenager illegally purchases alcohol or is caught trying to make a purchase, they will be subject to a court fine between $200 and $500.
If your teenager is caught in possession of alcohol in either a private or public place, they will be subject to arrest and prosecution in court. For a first offense, they will be guilty of an infraction and will have to pay a fine typically around $100. For a second offense, or more, they will have to pay a fine between $200 and $500.
In addition to these court penalties, the DMV will suspend their driver’s operating privileges. If they are caught in possession of alcohol on either private property or in a public place, they will receive a 30 days license suspension. If they are caught in possession of alcohol in a car while on the roads, the DMV will suspend their license for 60 days.
Most public schools will place their own restrictions on teenagers caught in possession of alcohol. For example, those who play on sports teams are typically suspended from part or all of their team’s competitive season. Check your teen’s student handbook and school policies for more information on the types of administrative actions your teen’s school may take.
Connecticut police and prosecutors have strict policies against drivers who operate under the influence of alcohol. Under our law, driving on Connecticut’s roadways is a privilege, not a right. All drivers, including teenage drivers, are presumed to have given consent to police to perform tests to determine the driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) if the police suspect that the driver could be operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Drivers under 21 years old cannot have a BAC of .02 or higher. Practically speaking, drinking any small amount of alcohol will result in a .02 BAC. Adult drivers are permitted up to a .08 BAC before they are considered in violation of the law.
Any driver under age 21 who is arrested and convicted of Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol (or Drugs) faces both court and DMV penalties. Their license will be suspended for 45 days by the DMV, and for a first offense, they will need to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in their car for one year. An IID is a breathalyzer connected to your car engine. If it detects alcohol use, the device will temporarily lock the car’s engine, and will send a report to the DMV. That usually brings more charges, additional license suspensions, and requires more time using the IID.