Last night Chandler City Council voted unanimously to put into law the Social Host Ordinance. The ordinance was first given initial introduction on May 28 and the final vote took place last night for adoption of the law. ICAN’s Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse (CCYSA) was the driving force behind this new law. Many partners of CCYSA including community volunteers, Chandler Police and Mother’s Against Drunk Driving were involved in getting the ordinance written and approved.
The Social Host Ordinance will be one more “tool” for Chandler Police to use in their fight again underage drinking. Homeowners will be held liable if underage drinking occurs at their property. Fines range from $250 to $1,000, with the option of waiving first-time offenses with substance abuse education. Some parents feel that it is okay to allow their teen to drink with friends in the safety of their own home. Studies have proven this theory wrong. Any exposure to underage drinking puts those youth in danger of substance abuse as teens and adults.
The message of the Social Host Ordinance is that it is not okay for underage teens to be consuming alcohol at all. Parents are responsible for their teens and this law will hold them accountable for the actions of their teens. If a group of teens has a party at their parent’s home, that parent could be cited for their actions.
An article in yesterday’s USA Today details the findings of a recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The report found that underage drinking among all U.S. residents from age 12 through 20 dropped 21% from 2002 to 2013. Underage binge drinking decreased 26.4%. One of the key factors in this significant drop was new laws cracking down on underage possession and consumption of alcohol, such as the Social Host Ordinance.
While the drop in binge drinking detailed in the report is a move in the right direction, there are still 9 million underage drinkers in the U.S. Initiatives such as the Social Host Ordinance will help decrease those numbers further.
Reaction from the community has been very supportive of the new law. Even teens have reacted in defense of their parents. They have expressed that they would think twice about having a party at their house because they do not want to get their parents in trouble.
We encourage parents to use the enacting of this law as another opportunity to talk to kids about alcohol abuse. It is illegal for minors to purchase and consume alcohol. It is also now a city code violation for parents and homeowners to allow consumption of alcohol by underage teens on their property. Keeping our teens healthy and away from alcohol now will lead to a lifetime of better decision making and healthier lives.
Chief Programs Officer