The National Minimum Drinking Age Act was enacted in 1984 that set the minimum drinking age at 21. States are also required to abide by this federal law by prohibiting those under the age of 21 from purchase or publicly possessing alcoholic drinks. Despite this law, the CDC reports that underage alcohol consumption is remains the most commonly used substance among young people.
Not consuming alcohol should be a given for minors, as well as their parents. However, where a personal sense of responsibility fails, legal accountability can step in. California has enacted social host liability laws that can hold adults responsible for underage drinking parties, regardless of who provided the alcoholic beverages.
California Social Host Liability Laws
California enacted Assembly Bill 2486 which attaches liability to adults who consciously provide alcohol to minors who are subsequently injured or killed as a result of their drinking. This bill brought California in line with the vast majority of the other states. Before the enactment of the bill, the state was among only a handful of states that provided for no social host liability.
A “social host” is defined as an adult who knowingly or unknowingly hosts party that serves alcohol beverages to underage minors on property the adult owns, leases, or otherwise has control over. This includes:
- Parents away from home when their children throw parties
- Parents who are present but who deny knowledge of minors consuming alcohol on their property
- Owners and/or tenants of rural property
- Owners of vacant property
Social host ordinances were designed to provide communities with a practical tool for holding adults accountable. It is difficult for law enforcement to determine who provided the alcohol when they arrive at the scene of an underage drinking party. However, social host liability ordinances focus on where the drinking took place, not who provided the alcoholic beverage.
Consequences of Social Host Ordinances
The social host ordinances allow law enforcement to cite the adult whose property was used to host an underage drinking party. Social host liability can be defined as a criminal a]][
If the adult is convicted on the criminal charges, they can face heavy monetary fines, imprisonment or both. If the adult is held civilly liable, the injured parties can seek monetary damages.
More than 150 cities or counties in California use social liability ordinances to address the specific needs and challenges faced in their communities.
Call an Experienced Central Valley DUI Attorney
If you or someone you care about has been arrested on the suspicion of drunk driving, it is imperative that you immediately hire an experienced drunk driving attorney to help protect your legal rights and ensure that you have the best defense possible to avoid a drunk driving conviction.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Fresno drunk driving attorney Gurjit Srai, please call us at (209) 323-5558.