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Police try to prosecute teens for not stopping drunk driving

The Glastonbury police are taking the laws relating to drunk driving to a new level that some critics say is overreaching. The police are saying that when two 17-year-old boys got out of a car and allowed a drunk occupant to drive off, that they were committing criminal conduct by not stopping her. Police arrested one of the two boys for reckless endangerment and both of them for violation of passenger restrictions. The issue being tested is whether in Connecticut a passenger can be criminally responsible for letting someone engage in drunk driving when they presumably could have stopped the person from going forward.

The 17-year-old high school girl who drove off after her two friends exited the vehicle crashed into a tree shortly thereafter and died. Her blood alcohol level was reportedly extremely high. The prosecutor claims that because the passengers knew that the girl was intoxicated and should not be driving they are criminally responsible for not stopping her.

Most criminal defense attorneys contacted indicated that they don't believe that the prosecution can hold up. One drunk driving defense attorney and former criminal law professor stated that someone can't be prosecuted for not stopping someone else from committing a crime. If someone has a gun and is robbing a convenience store, a witness is not criminally responsible for not taking the gun out of the robber's hands.

There can be civil liability in Connecticut for allowing someone to drink and then leave a party in a drunken state. There is dram shop liability imposed on night clubs and bars for serving those who are visibly drunk. Also, adult social host liability will impose civil liability on adults who allow minors to drink in their presence and then to engage in drunk driving. However, civil liability for money damages is distinguished from imprisoning someone for not stopping a drunk driver. It may be unlikely that society is ready to generally condone such a far-reaching expansion of our concepts of criminal responsibility.

Source:, Teens Arrested for Letting Friend Drive Drunk in Fatal Crash, Beth Greenfield, Dec. 6, 2013

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