News Release


DATE: July 26, 2006

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



San Diego - When planning a summer party, there are some basic rules to follow.  Don’t run out of chips.  Don’t forget the SPF.  And, don’t leave macaroni salad in the sun.  

By strengthening San Diego County’s Social Host Ordinance – also called the “house party law” – the Board of Supervisors has added a few additional rules to keep party guests safe and hosts out of trouble with the law.  

“Parties turn tragic in a heartbeat when there’s underage drinking going on,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “We’ve toughened our existing Social Host Ordinance to give the Sheriff’s Department a better tool to tackle troublesome parties.”

“Car crashes, fights, assaults, injuries, date rape…when minors drink, bad things happen,” said Supervisor Greg Cox who joined Jacob in calling for the changes to the ordinance.  “That’s why the County has stepped up to prevent young people from making foolish mistakes.”

The County’s Social Host Ordinance now includes some common-sense rules for party hosts.  The legal duties for party hosts apply to anyone, regardless of age, who hosts any type of gathering.

“Two-thirds of young people say they get their alcohol from social sources; friends, older family members, or in social settings like parties,” said Kathleen Lippitt who chairs the Social Access Workgroup of the San Diego County Policy Panel on Youth Access to Alcohol. “The County’s tougher ordinance is a big step forward to prevent underage drinking,” she said.  

Hosts are required to verify the age of their guests, checking I.D. if necessary.  Hosts must control the quantity of alcohol at the gathering, and control access to it.

In addition, party hosts must supervise the activities of minors.

Party hosts who don’t follow the rules can be convicted of a misdemeanor.

“Without an effective Social Host Ordinance, the host of a drinking party faces little consequence. When sheriff’s deputies respond to a report of a party and find underage drinkers, those young people can be cited,” Lippitt said.  “With the county’s strengthened ordinance in place, the host of an underage drinking party can be cited for a misdemeanor.”

People convicted of a social host violation will pay a fine and may also be billed for law enforcement costs involved in dealing with the party, which can add up to thousands of dollars.

The amendments to the Social Host Ordinance take effect in 30 days.