The Law

If you’re going to serve or consume alcohol in Connecticut, there are some laws you should know.  As you already know, it’s illegal for anyone under 21 to consume alcohol in CT*.  It’s also illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher (but it can be dangerous to drive at considerably lower levels of intoxication).  This is pretty straightforward, but the laws get a little bit more complicated when it comes to serving alcohol.

In CT, as in many states, it’s legal for individuals 18 years or older to serve alcohol (but not to possess or consume it if they’re under 21).  It’s illegal, however, to serve alcohol to anyone without a valid form of photo ID (driver’s license, passport, state-issued ID, military ID, alien registration card) showing that they’re 21 or older.  It’s also illegal to serve anyone who’s already visibly intoxicated - and you can be held liable for injuries or other damages if you do via CT Dram Shop Laws.  

As of fall 2012, there’s also a new, stricter social hosting law in effect.  This law increases the penalty for allowing people under 21 to consume alcohol on your premises - it’s now a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and up to a year in prison.  The law also now extends criminal negligence (which means you don’t necessarily have to know underage drinking is occurring to be held liable as a host).  This law has obvious ramifications for Yale students and student organizations hosting parties: it’s more important than ever to check IDs carefully.

If you’re considering hosting events with alcohol and all this seems a little overwhelming, you might consider taking our free TIPS bartender training course, which covers all this information and practical strategies for execution.  You can also view CT state laws in summary or in full detail the full laws in detail.

*In CT, as in some other states, it is legal for individuals under 21 to consume alcohol served to them by their parents and consumed while they’re present.