Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hosting Parties for Teens: Do You Know the Law?

San Diego’s Social Host Ordinance 
by Veronica Jean Cassell

When high school graduation rolls around, it is an occasion to be celebrated. Every teenager loves being able to let loose and exhale after all the hard work, and parents generally want to allow their teenage children the freedom to enjoy themselves on their graduation. However, if alcohol is going to be served at a graduation party, and teenagers are drinking it, that can be a very serious issue.

The City of San Diego’s Social Host Ordinance (Municipal Code, Sections 56.60-56.63) states that the owner of the property where a party is held can be deemed liable for any illegal, underage drinking done on the premises. Additionally, the property owner can be held responsible for the underage teen’s actions. The consequences of violating the social host ordinance can even result in an arrest, depending on the severity of the issue.

If you are hosting a party where minors (those under 21) are present, this ordinance requires you to:
  • Verify the age of the guests 
  • Control access to alcohol 
  • Control the quantity of alcohol at the gathering 
  • Supervise minors and prevent underage drinking 

The law takes the enforcement of underage drinking seriously, and the social host ordinance has proven to lower the number of teens drinking illegally and the number of adults willing to provide a place to do so. Alcohol and underage consumption can lead to tragedy and the destruction of a multitude of lives. Law enforcement wants to limit the number of teens drinking illegally and then proceeding to get into car wrecks, injuring themselves and others.

So, before hosting a graduation party, decide how you are going to deal with the statutes of the social host ordinance. A graduation celebration is all well and good, but getting arrested because of an underage drinker under your watch is not the way you want the party to end.

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