Social host refers to adults who host parties where alcohol is served on property they control. Through social host liability laws, adults can be held responsible for these parties if underage people are served, regardless of who furnishes the alcohol. Teen parties are a primary setting for underage drinking for high school and college students and high consumption of alcohol and binge drinking.
Underage drinking is not just a youth problem.
It is also very much an adult problem. With adults who purchase alcohol for those under age 21; look the other way when teens talk about their drinking exploits; and host teenage drinking parties in their homes, many communities struggle to prevent underage drinking.
Holding adults responsible for underage drinking parties is a pro-active step for concerned communities but can be difficult. Law enforcement officials are typically not able to determine who provided the alcohol when they arrive on the scene of a teenage drinking party. Therefore, laws that prohibit furnishing alcohol to youth under 21 years old can be hard to enforce.
Social host ordinances give communities a practical tool for holding adults accountable. These laws allow law enforcement to cite the individual who hosted the underage drinking party on their property. More than 150 cities or counties and 24 states have adopted social host ordinances.
For more information on advocating for a social host ordinance in your community, download MADD’s sample social host law and the social host brochure, and take them to elected officials in your local municipality to make a difference. For questions or more information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org