Abbotsford Police caution against hosting graduation parties

Warning comes after incidents at two such occasions over the weekend

Some graduates are choosing to celebrate with alcohol-fueled parties

Some graduates are choosing to celebrate with alcohol-fueled parties

Abbotsford Police are cautioning parents about hosting graduation parties after some concerning issues arose at two such events over the weekend.

Const. Ian MacDonald said that in both situations, several parents were on scene and, although they did not  supply alcohol, most of the partygoers brought their own.

The first party was on Friday night at a home in central Abbotsford.

Police who were in the area came across a collision between two vehicles, and the drivers told officers they were on their way to a party and were looking for a parking spot.

MacDonald said officers noticed a high volume of traffic on the street and “dozens and dozens” of teens heading to the same house, which had a pool in the back yard.

Officers who did a check of the home discovered that five parents were overseeing the party and had initially expected about 50 kids to show up, but police counted 120 on the scene.

Most of of the partygoers had brought alcohol, and many had drugs, MacDonald said.

He said even more concerning was that, while police were there, an ambulance had to be called to the scene after a teen became unconscious due to his level of intoxication.

The youth was taken to hospital for treatment, and everyone was sent home from the party.

The second party occurred the following night in a rural area of Abbotsford, and police were called to the scene by a neighbour.

Officers who did a walk-through of the celebration discovered a loaded firearm on a table. Officers seized the gun, and that party was also broken up.

MacDonald cautioned parents about the dangers of hosting such occasions, despite their good intentions.

What if a severely intoxicated teen had fallen into the pool and nobody noticed or what if someone had fired the loaded gun? he questions.

“At a certain point, you might not be able to control it (the party),” MacDonald said.

The legal responsibility that hosts have for their guests comes under “social host liability,” which falls into a broad category of law known as “negligence law” through which a host can be sued for injuries or damages.

About half of the provinces in Canada, including B.C., have Occupiers’ Liability legislation, which means that anyone who has control over premises could be responsible for injuries (or worse) to people who are invited onto their premises, according to the Canada Safety Council.

This can apply even when the hosts are not providing the alcohol themselves but are condoning its use on their premises.

Situations that have resulted in lawsuits have included intoxicated guests who have driven away from a party and then been involved in a car accident.

However, in order for a lawsuit to be successful, the situation needs to have been “foreseeable,” according to the Canada Safety Council.

” …. as a result, there have been few successful cases because the courts have found the risk and the injury resulting to be unforeseeable.”

Hosts of grad parties can also face a variety of consequences under the law. For example, MacDonald said they can be fined if they are supplying alcohol to minors or if the party is disturbing the peace of the neighbourhood.

Depending on what arises from the event, they could also face criminal charges for such things as mischief. But MacDonald said that should be the least of their concerns.

“The tickets are not the big deal here. What if someone gets injured or killed? That’s where the real consequences come from,” he said.