– Scenario by Lindsey Erickson and Ouran Li, Legal Information by JFCY

At fifteen years old, Jamie and her friends all agreed they were much too old to be trick-or-treating. This was the first year that they would have a real “grown-up” Halloween: co-ed, costumes, and, of course, alcohol. The group decided that they should definitely throw a party, but since Halloween fell on a weekday, it proved problematic finding a place to throw it. Their entire families would be home and they did not want to risk the consequences of getting caught by their parents, most of whom did not approve of underage drinking.

“We’ll just wing it,” declared Jamie’s best friend Amanda. “My big brother is going to get us a couple of mickies – we’ll find someplace to go.”

Jamie was nervous about the idea, but, not wanting to ruin the fun, she decided she would meet up with her friends on Halloween night.

After putting the finishing touches on her costume, Jamie received a text from Amanda saying that the party was going to be in the park across the school. The group knew that police officers frequented the park, but they were confident the wooded area directly behind would be safe. The signs around the park, however, made it quite clear that it was closed after 11pm. Once again Jamie simply shrugged it off, and headed on over.  It was after midnight by this point.

When Jamie arrived at 12:15am, she saw that the party was less than subtle. Many people were already quite intoxicated. Jamie’s friend Amanda was dancing on the park bench, dangerously close to teetering over.

Jamie had barely a sip of alcohol before she heard sirens. The majority of the party scrambled, rushing off into every direction. The next thing she knew a flashlight was in her face, and a stern voice asking what she was doing. The police had arrived.

What are the potential legal consequences for Jamie?

Underage drinking

Since Jamie and Amanda are both under 19, ss.30(8) of the Liquor Licence Act makes it illegal for them to have or consume alcohol.  While there are certain exceptions to this prohibition, drinking in the park on Halloween isn’t one of them!

Breaking curfew

One problem that Jamie and Amanda face is that they were out in a public place after midnight.  The Child and Family Services Act says that parents of children under sixteen cannot permit their children to be without an authorized adult in public places between midnight and six am.

Municipal bylaws

In addition to breaking Ontario laws, Jamie and Amanda could be breaking municipal bylaws of the town/city where they live.  Bylaws are the laws that are created by a city or a town.  For example, the City of Toronto has a whole chapter in its bylaws about the proper use of public parks.  One of the rules says that consuming, serving, or selling alcohol in a public park is not allowed without a licence from the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario.  Another one says that no one is allowed to gather in a public park after midnight and before 5:30 am without a special permit.  These are rules that apply to everyone, regardless of their age.

Curfew comic by PLE Team member Arif Hussain

Lindsey Erickson is a Paralegal Student at Seneca College, and Ouran Li is studying to be a Law Clerk at Seneca College.  They are volunteer members of the PLE Team at JFCY.