In addition to social host citations discussed below, teens can suffer legal consequences for underage possession, consumption, purchase of alcohol or public intoxication under “minor in possession”, “open container” and other laws. These consequences can be in the form of infractions or misdemeanors. Misdemeanors potentially have to be disclosed in college applications.
Additionally, teens under the age of 21 cannot drive with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01% or higher. Even if teens are nowhere near a car, they still can have their driver’s licenses suspended, restricted or delayed for up to one year for each offense related to the possession, consumption or purchase of alcohol.
DUI’s. Over the holiday period, there will be an increased presence of law enforcement on highways and streets with checkpoints coordinated by Marin County’s DUI Task Force. Beyond holiday periods, CHP and other local police departments have zero tolerance for driving under the influence. CHP also strictly enforces an 11 pm curfew for drivers with “provisional” driver’s licenses (during the first year) as well as restrictions on new drivers driving other teens.
Recent Social Host Citations Involving Alcohol and Teens. Social Host Citations are in effect throughout Marin County, California and impose liability on homeowners who host gatherings with alcohol that are attended by minors. Depending on the jurisdiction, citations may also be levied against teens. Fines range from $750 to $2,500. Additionally, the County and other jurisdictions impose on teens and adults community service hours through a restorative justice program. The County also recently amended its ordinance to include marijuana and other controlled substances. Other Marin cities and towns are considering whether to follow the County and also include drinking and other drug use on party buses.
Two Social Host Citations recently were issued in Larkspur, California by the Central Marin Police Authority (“CPMA”). CPMA and other jurisdictions in Marin issue press releases, as well as post on Nextdoor and Nixel, on social host violations with the block and street named. Additionally, if a teen is 18 years or over, the minor and family will be identified publicly by name.
On Friday afternoon, November 11th, CMPA officers were called to the 900 block of Magnolia Avenue for a loud party. While standing outside the residence officers could hear juveniles inside. The 17-year old hostess met the officers at the door, said that her parents were not at home and refused to allow them inside. At the officer’s request she contacted her father by phone and he gave them permission to enter the home. Ten teens in the house were found to have consumed a small amount alcohol. Their parents were notified. The 17-year old was issued an administrative citation for violation of Larkspur’s Social Host Accountability Ordinance.
On Saturday, November 12th at 12:30 a.m. officers responded to a noise complaint coming from a home in the 400 block of Riviera Circle. Officers could see numerous juveniles in the backyard and several inside the house. When they rang the doorbell they heard a male voice say “Don’t open the door” and the sounds of glass or bottles being gathered up. The door was finally opened by the 17 year-old male resident. His eyes were red and watery and he had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. Officers could also smell the odor of both alcohol and marijuana coming from inside the house.
The teen was joined at the door by his father who said that there were about 20 of his son’s Redwood H.S. football teammates celebrating the win of a playoff game. The man would not allow officers entry into the home and said that he didn’t think the teens were drinking alcohol but that he would check. Based on the number of juveniles at the location, the odor of alcohol and marijuana, and the teen displaying the objective signs of intoxication, the man was issued a Social Host Accountability citation.