San Bernardino County’s New
Social Host Ordinance
What Does It Mean To Our Communities?
San Bernardino County’s Social Host Ordinance was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on June 15, 2010. This ordinance helps reduce and prevent underage drinking.
What does Social Host mean? A “Social Host” refers to adults and/or property owners who knowingly host, permit, or allow underage drinking parties on properties that they own, lease, or otherwise control.
The Social Host Ordinance gives our law enforcement another tool to deal with loud and unruly parties where underage drinking occurs.
How does a Social Host Ordinance help reduce and prevent underage drinking?
A Social Host Ordinance can help reduce and prevent underage drinking by:
- Acting as a deterrent: As adults become aware of the dangers and consequences of hosting underage drinking parties, they are more likely to prevent them from happening.
- Encouraging community members to be watchful in their communities.
- Helping recover costs incurred by law enforcement involved in responding to underage drinking parties.
- Reducing binge drinking and the dangers caused by it.
- Reinforcing a clear and consistent community-wide message that underage drinking is unhealthy, unsafe, and unacceptable.
Why is underage drinking unhealthy/unsafe?
Many adults think underage drinking is simply a right of passage. In an attempt to prevent drunk driving tragedies, some adults feel that they are keeping kids safe by “taking the keys” and providing them a safe environment in which to consume alcohol. Not only does this foster the idea that it is acceptable to violate the law, but the following facts, that show drunk driving is not the only risk associated with underage drinking, should be considered:
- Research shows that during adolescence the brain changes dramatically. Alcohol can seriously affect a young person’s brain development. (American Medical Association report: Harmful Consequences of Alcohol Use on the Brains of Children, Adolescents, and College Students PDF, 69KB)
- A recent national study has shown that youth who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol than those who wait to begin drinking until age 21. (Results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic survey. Journal of Substance Abuse, 9:103-110.)
- Often, drinking parties involve binge drinking – consuming 5 or more drinks on one occasion. This type of high-risk behavior greatly increases the risk of alcohol poisoning, accidents and injuries, car crashes, violence, sexual assault, and unprotected sex.
What will happen to those who host underage drinking parties?
Many parents agree that it’s not acceptable for adults to provide alcohol to their teens or to provide a place where underage drinking is allowed. Only parents should have the right to determine how and when their children are introduced to alcohol. The Social Host Ordinance helps ensure that parental right, and holds adults accountable who wish to take that right away. Social Host violations can carry one or more of the following penalties: criminal citations or penalties, civil penalties, and administrative citations. (Section 11.0206 – 11.0208 of the San Bernardino County Code)
For More Information Contact
the Rim Communities For Youth Coalition
Rim Family Services