Prom season is in full swing and graduation festivities are not far behind. If all the pomp and circumstance has prompted you to honor your kid’s wish to turn your home into party central, you might want to consider what it’ll cost you.
Forget about the bill for the food, beverages and decorations; rather, focus on how you may pay dearly if you aren’t familiar with social host ordinances.
A “social host” is anyone who knowingly allows underage drinking to take place on property that he or she owns, leases or otherwise controls. This is not to be confused with furnishing alcohol to partygoers under the age of 21. That’s illegal in and of itself. Social host ordinances make it illegal to provide a venue where underage drinking takes place. In other words, if you are hosting a party and the environment lends itself to underage drinking, you will suffer the consequences, regardless of whether or not you provided the alcohol.
Individual counties have the ability to modify certain aspects of a social host ordinance, but most require party hosts to follow these steps:
- Control Access: Supervise all minors so they are not given free access to alcohol.
- Control Quantity: Don’t go crazy buying out your local liquor store. Having an excessive amount of alcohol on your property makes it harder to keep track of.
- Verify Age: As a parent hosting a party for your child you are responsible for finding out the age of each guest.
If you fail to follow the aforementioned steps to prevent alcohol consumption by an underage guest on your property you could be arrested, sent to jail or be forced to pay fines up to $5,000, plus you will be billed for all law enforcement services. Second offenses carry even harsher penalties, including but not limited to, a six-month jail sentence.
Bottom line: Alcohol is the drug of choice for most teens. However, before you sign up to be the “cool” parent and host a booze-filled party for your kid and his posse think about how much you stand to lose if you get caught.