The Social Host Ordinance:
All cities in Marin, as well as Marin County itself, have adopted some form of “Social Host” Ordinance. Social Host Ordinances generally provide for a violation when there are “two or more minors at a place, residence or other private property”, and “alcoholic beverages are possessed or consumed by one or more of the minors”.
Criminal vs. Civil:
A violation of the Social Host Ordinance, depending on what jurisdiction it occurs in, could be cited as either a “Criminal” violation, or a “Civil” violation. In some areas, the Officer has the option of citing a Social Host Ordinance violation as either a criminal or a civil violation.
So what does this mean:
The nature of a criminal violation vs. a civil violation has to do with the punishment imposed. If the Social Host Ordinance violation is cited criminally, it is a usually a Misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine of $1000, which may appear on a criminal record. However, if cited as a Civil violation, it is considered an “administrative matter” (an ordinance violation) and is punishable by a fine only and will not go on a criminal record.
If a notice of violation is issued as a civil violation, most jurisdictions have a sliding scale for the fine amount based on the number of violations occurring, usually within a years period of time.
WHAT TO DO?
- Never provide alcohol to a minor or allow minors to drink on your property.
- Actively supervise all gatherings of youth. Be present and aware.
- Let other parents and adults know what you expect from them.
- Let your neighbors know if you will be out of town or away for the night so they can alert you or law enforcement if a party is held.
- Call the police if you know a party that might happen or is happening. You could save a life. You can report anonymously.
- Always call 911 in the case of an emergency – even if your actions contributed to underage drinking. Police will consider your efforts to address the emergency when issuing a penalty.
In Central Marin, the fines range from $750-$1000. In Marin County, fines range from $750-$2500.