“Social host ordinances” refer to laws that hold people (i.e. hosts) liable if they over-serve alcohol to guests who later get in trouble for being drunk.
Social host ordinances have attracted some criticism, since it can be argued that they shift responsibility from the individual to another, but a recent report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune suggest that they have had some success in curbing teenage drinking.
The paper was inspired to create the report by the death of a teenager in Lac Qui Parle county. The teenager had been at a house party where alcohol was being served. He left on foot, passed out, struck his head and died. The teenager who hosted the party and his father have been charged in connection with his death, since prosecutors believe the alcohol they served contributed to his death.
According to MADD, 109 Minnesota cities and 22 counties have enacted social host ordinances in the past 10 years. That covers 2.5 million out of 5.3 million residents.
One sheriff whom the Star Tribune spoke to said that because people are aware that they could be held responsible for the actions of people whom they over-serve, they are less likely to do so in the first place. The paper also drew the conclusion that fewer people are hosting drinking parties for teens because they worry about consequences.
As a Minneapolis DWI Lawyer , this is an issue I pay attention to because it is my job to stay abreast of alcohol-related laws in our state. While it is good that we have seen an apparent increase in public safety, questions still linger about the merit of social host ordinances. From what you’ve read here, do they seem like a good idea to you? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section of this blog.
If you ever get into trouble after drinking and driving and want to speak to a lawyer, please know that we are available to help. You can contact us at any time.