News Release


DATE: May 6, 2003

CONTACT STEVE SCHMIDT AT 619-531-4766 or 619-206-9108



San Diego - The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted today to draft an ordinance that would crack down on adults who knowingly host underage drinking parties.

Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Greg Cox have taken the lead on this issue and recently authored legislation directing County staff to research the issue and draft and ordinance.

"Underage drinking in our County can, and does, lead to traffic crashes, violent crimes, injury and increased risk taking behaviors," said Supervisor Jacob. "By creating a strong social host ordinance we hope to change community norms around the acceptance of underage drinking at private parties where alcohol is being provided by adults, and help to save lives in the process."

It is being recommended that punishment for violating the County ordinance, if adopted, would be a misdemeanor charge that carries a $1,000 fine and or six months in jail and the County should seek full cost recovery for the sheriff's department from the adults that hosted the party. In addition, revenues received by the County due to this ordinance should be directed toward alcohol abuse and prevention education programs in the community.

"DUI is the leading cause of death among teens," said Cynthia Roark, MADD president. "Social host laws have the potential to change our society's thinking around underage drinking. It is not a 'rite of passage' and this is an opportunity for us to protect children."

Alcohol is the number one choice of drugs for minors due to its accessibility. According to a 2001 survey of Mountain Empire High School Students, 62 percent of male students in the 11th grade and 80 percent of males students in the 12th grade as well as 66 percent of female students in the 11th grade and 60 percent of female students in the 12th grade said that they obtain alcohol from home or at home parties. Furthermore, according to the 2002 Health and Well-Being Report Card, the rate of children and youth between the ages of 15 and 20 that are killed or injured in alcohol/drug related motor vehicle crashes is on the rise. In another study it was determined that underage drinking primarily occurs in homes and in open spaces such as parks and beaches.

"As adults we have an obligation to protect our children," said Theresa Johnson, Alpine Bread Basket owner and Ramona resident. "Sadly some adults think they are making things safer by providing youth alcohol and a place to drink. This sends a mixed message to youth indicating that even though you are underage it is okay to drink. And furthermore, parents have the right to determine if, how and when their children are introduced to alcohol."

The cities of Poway, Oceanside and San Diego have all adopted social host ordinances over the past six months. Besides the countywide social host ordinance currently being considered, there is also an effort to pass a similar ordinance in the city of El Cajon.