Social host law get initial OK
Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/18/2011 06:48:38 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO – The city is set to impose stiffer penalties on those who allow minors to drink or do drugs in their homes.

Under a 6-0 vote Monday evening, the City Council gave initial approval to an ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor for persons to allow minors to drink alcohol or use marijuana or any other controlled substance in their homes.

Those who violate the ordinance, which is subject to final approval, face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Officials say they hope the ordinance cuts down on raucous parties that sometimes turn deadly.

“I support it because we now have something in place holding people accountable for throwing these parties,” said 1st Ward Councilwoman Virginia Marquez. “It might save someone’s life from overdosing.”

The law is commonly called a “social host” ordinance because it focuses on those who have control of a premises and requires them to take preventive measures to make sure minors don’t use drugs or drink at a gathering.

San Bernardino is not the first local jurisdiction to pass a social host ordinance.

Fontana and San Bernardino County passed such laws last year.

In December, a Rancho Cucamonga resident was cited for allegedly violating that city’s social host ordinance after sheriff’s deputies responded to the 10000 block of Bristol Drive on a report of an out-of-control party.

Some say such ordinances are corrosive to civil liberty, especially since state and county laws prohibit underage drinking as well as providing alcohol to those who are not legally old enough to drink.

William C. Makler, a Santa Barbara-based defense attorney, says law enforcement already has plenty of tools to deter underage drinking, including noise ordinances and other laws on the books.

To read entire story, click here.