Why is This Important?
· We want our youth to grow up to be strong, healthy and drug-free.
· Even when the property owner did not supply the alcohol, it is still illegal for underage youth to consume alcohol. Adults, including parents, who knowingly permit youth to consume alcohol at their home, are sending the wrong message to our youth.
· Currently, only the person who actually physically sells or gives the alcohol to the person under legal age can be prosecuted.
· Underage drinkers may obtain the alcohol from one person and then go somewhere else to drink it. Common examples are parties that take place in rural areas, or at the home of one of the underage drinkers. Adults have told police they knew about the party and it was okay with them, “because the kids weren’t driving and I knew where they were.” This is still condoning illegal behavior. Currently, there is no charge that applies to these situations.
Did you know…
· It costs Iowans $582 million a year as a result of underage drinking.
· 82% of athlete’s parents surveyed believe their son or daughter does not drink. 52% of their underage student-athletes admitted to drinking.
· Youth who drink before 15 are 4 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who began drinking at age 21.
Enacting a local social host ordinance would give law enforcement the ability to address and manage the issue of individuals hosting underage drinking in a way that fits our local community, rather than being bound by the state vision for this issue. The neighboring community of Jefferson County has adopted a local social host ordinance which could be used as a possible guide for drafting one for Van Buren County.
Local changes recommended for the local social host ordinance include: Designating a violation as a municipal infraction with a civil penalty rather than the state code’s criminal misdemeanor penalty; Imposing fines in the amount of $750 for first offense and $1,000 for second offense, which is more meaningful than $500 for second and subsequent offenses as provided for in state code; Including individuals in the 18-20 year old age group as 21 is the legal drinking age in the state of Iowa.