"Social Host" ordinance: Parents who let teens drink alcohol could be fined

A proposed new law in Chandler would allow police to ticket parents who let teens drink at house parties.

Parents could face up to a $1,000 fine if underage children are caught drinking at their home.

The city of Chandler hopes this new law will deter underage drinking.

A recent survey found the average age a Chandler teen has their first sip of alcohol is 12.7 years old.

"Anyone who is watching this would think if they've got a 13-year-old in their house that this wouldn't necessarily be their child and it very well could not be, but the average age is 12.7," said Melissa Jimro of ICAN Positive Programs for Youth.

For more than three years, Jimro has been working on a new law called the Social Host Ordinance.  The proposed ordinance would hold homeowners responsible for allowing underage drinking.

"The number one source for youth receiving alcohol was parties," said Jimro.

The Chandler City Council will introduce the new law on May 28th.  A final vote will happen in a few weeks. Jimro hopes the social host law will stop teens sneaking alcohol into house parties.

"Many were saying, well, that makes me not want to have a party in my home because I wouldn't want to have my parents be responsible for me," said Jimro.  

"It's a great idea," said Cmdr. Matthew Christenson of the Chandler Police Department.

Christenson has seen his share of house parties where parents allow teenagers and their friends to drink.

"Some of them.. the reaction is well, it's better here than any place else.  Some of them are ignorant.. a lot of them on vacation, so they're not even there," he said.

Under the proposed law, the first offense is a $250 ticket.  A second offense is $500 and the third offense is $1,000.  Parents are the only ones who will be held responsible.  Adults who promote parties on social media could also be ticketed.

If Chandler does pass the new law, it would be the 11th city in Arizona to do so. Tempe, Tucson, Coolidge and Buckeye all have similar ordinances.
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