By Barbara Wallace
Did you know that if you have a party and alcohol is served to anyone under the age of 21 you could be arrested and go to jail?
As we approach the end of the school year, many parents and teens are anxious to celebrate — and alcohol is sometimes involved. San Diego County’s Social Host Ordinance (Section 32.303 SDCC) states that any person who owns or has control of private property and knowingly hosts or allows a party shall take all reasonable steps to prevent the consumption of alcoholic beverages by any minor at the party. A “minor” is under the age of 21 years.
In San Diego County some parents host drinking parties on behalf of their children with the belief they can control the amount of alcohol the minors consume. Another myth is that they believe the minors will inevitably drink anyway and thus parental supervision will ensure their safety.
Hosting at home or at a private location does not change the facts or lessen the danger. Underage drinking is a major public health issue and a cause for concern due to alcohol related collisions, violent crimes, accidental injuries, alcohol poisoning, and increased risk taking behaviors.
The enforcement of the San Diego County Social Host Ordinance ensures that adults can be held responsible for underage drinking parties — regardless of how the alcohol was obtained. The responsible party can be arrested and booked at a jail and fined for the involvement.
The ordinance also provides that the person charged with the offense must pay for the costs associated with the sheriff’s services to enforce the law. It’s just not worth the risk to your reputation and financial success to provide alcohol to minors.
As graduation and prom events approach, parents and students can plan successful and fun events that do not include alcohol. No matter what a teen says, ”everyone” is not consuming alcohol. A majority of our Ramona teens will find positive, healthy, and safe ways to celebrate these milestones.
With the assistance and encouragement of responsible adults in our community, we can reduce the likelihood of a death or serious injury to any of our young citizens. Let’s not lose any of our graduates this year.
For more information about the San Diego County Social Host Ordinance, contact Sgt. Brent Strahm at the Ramona Sheriff’s Substation at 760-789-9157. You can also read the statute online by searching for San Diego County Code Section 32.303.
Barbara Wallace is the sheriff’s crime information officer in Ramona.