NEW CANAAN, Conn. (July 14, 2017) – A Connecticut father and his two children are facing charges after hosting a boozy graduation party where a highly intoxicated underage teen suffered a minor head injury.
FOX News reports the 17-year-old girl fell down while dancing during a party at 54-year-old Jim Vos’ home. The girl was transported to a nearby hospital where her friends told police they had been drinking at the party.
Police went to the Vos home and found “vomit on the patio and lawn, clear garbage bags filled with empty cans of Budweiser and bottles of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and the strong odor of alcohol in the backyard.” Police say Vos was “uncooperative” and would not answer their questions. Warrants were issued and Vos and his two adult children, Sophie Vos, 18, and his son, Hayden Vos, 22, turned themselves into police shortly after.
Jim and Hayden Vos were charged with failure to halt possession of alcohol by a minor. Sophie Vos was charged with permitting a minor to possess alcohol. All three were freed on bond and are scheduled to appear in court in late July and early August.
With graduation and college going-away party season in full swing, this incident is an important reminder that parents could find themselves in serious legal trouble if they allow underage drinking to occur on their watch and on their property – legal troubles that could range from jail time, to being sued in civil court for financial damages.
“Adults should be aware that law enforcement officials are no longer turning a blind eye on social hosts. They are coming down on them hard,” Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. Partner Jeffrey J. Kroll said during a recent appearance on FOX 32 News.
The passage of the Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act in January of 2004 opened the door for social host liability for the first time in Illinois. And in 2013, Illinois passed a Social Host Law that states any adult who knowingly allows underage drinking or provides alcohol to minors can be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. If the illegal, underage drinking results in injury or death, the adult could be charged with a Class 4 felony.
However, it is important to note there are still a wide range of circumstances which could impact whether parents are held responsible under the law. For example, a person may not be liable if they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent underage drinking from occurring in their home.