It’s known as a social host ordinance and Kennesaw is the latest city in many across the nation to pass one.
The ordinance means that adults can be punished with fines or jail time if they know or should know that teens are drinking in their home. Experts say the social host ordinances fill a gap in underage drinking laws in which cops have to prove that parents “dispensed” the drinks for the teens.
“Adults in Kennesaw who let teenagers drink alcohol at their home might feel less hospitable now that they could be penalized with fines or jail time.”
“A new social host ordinance, sometimes called a teen party ordinance, enacted Wednesday night by the City Council makes it a misdemeanor to allow youngsters to imbibe. Adults who knew or should have known such activities were occurring under their nose can be punished by up to six months in prison or a $300 fine in addition to a possible civil penalty.
The amount of the possible civil penalty isn’t specified in the new ordinance. Lt. Craig Graydon of the Kennesaw Police Department said it would be determined by a judge.
Kennesaw is following municipalities and counties in at least 24 states that have passed similar ordinances. The city of Austell was the first in Cobb County to enact a social host ordinance last year. The county passed its version in July.
The ordinance is aimed at curbing binge drinking as well as the consumption of alcohol by persons under 21 in a city where thousands of Kennesaw State University students live.
Cathy Finck, executive director of the Cobb Alcohol Task Force, said the law won’t punish parents whose children throw a secret party while they are out of town.
“This is for the parent who says kids are going to drink anyway, so I’m going to take their keys and let them drink in my basement,” Finck said. “If we let them know they could be liable for a large fine and confinement, they might think twice about it.”
Older siblings, landlords or tenants who play host to underage drinking parties also could be held liable.
Graydon said the ordinance addresses a gap in the current state law that prohibits furnishing alcohol to a minor. That law is more difficult to enforce because police have to prove the adult actually dispensed the alcohol, he said.”
I am fascinated that older siblings could be held liable as well.
So do you think there is a gap in the underage drinking laws? What do you think of the social host ordinance? Would it keep you from letting teens drink in the basement? Is that a good thing or is it forcing them out of the house and onto the roads to drink?