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Social host laws: Minnesota adults in trouble for underage drinking

Social host laws: Minnesota adults in trouble for underage drinking

On behalf of Keller Law Offices posted in Underage Drinking on Saturday, September 3, 2011

Woodbury, Minnesota, has adopted a new law to punish parents who allow underage drinking in their home. The municipal ordinance often referred to as a “social host” law, will allow police to cite parents who knowingly and willingly allow underage drinking in their homes.

The ordinance is a way to deal with loopholes left in state laws. The state law makes it illegal to furnish alcohol to minors. However, courts have ruled that allowing a party where the homeowner or parents knew minors were drinking is not illegal. They are not required by law to take away the alcohol or stop the party.

The Woodbury Public Safety Director says that most parents are good about not allowing their children, or the children of others, to drink in their homes. However, he notes that there are some “safe havens” for underage drinking in his town. Police get called to the same places over and over. He feels that the new law will help eliminate some of those safe havens.

If Woodbury Police get called to one of the safe havens, the parents or homeowners should expect to get cited with a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and a possible sentence of up to 90 days in jail. Minors can also be cited with underage consumption.

The ordinance is aimed at parents who know what is going on and let the drinking continue. Parents who are out of town or have no idea that minors are consuming alcohol in their homes will not be cited for the violation.

Source: Woodbury Bulletin, “Adults who allow teen drinking now face fines,” Riham Feshir, Aug. 24, 2011

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