Underage Drinking & the Law

What parents need to know now about the new Social Host Laws


Law enforcement has a secret weapon in the War on Underage Drinking: 

Arrest the Parents

Once upon a time, crimes required passion, desperation or recklessness. Not any more. Now, your “crime” could be going out for dinner with your spouse and coming home a half hour earlier than your teen expected…or permitting your child to have three friends sleep over…or agreeing to help celebrate the varsity team’s big win.

Once, being called a Social Host was a compliment on your party planning skills…but this party is happening without your approval.

Today, being called a Social Host means you’ve been charged with an unintended crime of allowing teens to drink in your home. Not buying alcohol for teens or serving alcohol to teens; just not doing enough to prevent them from drinking in your home.

Let’s be absolutely clear: if you believe it’s okay to serve alcohol to other people’s children, this is not the site for you.

However, if your parenting style sits in the muddy middle between the Just-Say-No Prohibitionists and the Always-Say-Yes Permissivists, welcome to SocialHostLaw.com. This website serves to help caring, involved parents navigate the tricky issues of underage drinking and the law. Our goal is to answer the question:

How can we protect our families and ourselves if good parents are criminalized when teens disobey their rules?

SocialHostLaw.com is the source for parents and families for:

  • Up-to-the-minute news on the laws that affect you
  • The latest research on underage drinking
  • Resources to share with your friends and family
  • Community and Connection
  • And more

For quick information on Social Hosting, how to find the ordinance in your area and understanding the law, visit our FAQs and Social Host Law Primer pages

46 comments on “Welcome

  1. Denise
    July 7, 2015

    I am being accused of offering alcohol to my daughter’s friends last summer, which never ever happened. Can the stupid drug addict mother that is accusing me file a report and can I be arrested for something that supposedly happened last summer? It is so absolutely ridiculous and this woman is constantly harassing me.

    • HM Epstein
      July 7, 2015

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re in this situation. However, it feels like we’re missing most of the pertinent details. Here’s Rath I can tell you: Statutes of limitations vary by jurisdiction, so I can’t know what your exposure level may be. It’s hard to prove you provided alcohol unless the children that were in your home on the night in question agree to testify against you. I suggest you clearly state in an email that you have never provided alcohol to minors and that you deny the charges. The other mother would have to go to the police, press charges, prove a credible witness before they would prosecute. Contact me if it gets that far.

  2. Me
    May 2, 2014

    Are you kidding me? I was arrested on the same charge and three years later, I am still haunted by my ordeal. I did not supply, condone, know about or send kids off my property that I knew to have been drinking. I told them at the beginning of the night no drugs or alcohol, (pull and read the police records) and yet they brought vodka and concealed it in water bottles and blue UV vodka in gatorade bottles (again, read the police reports) and I have endured a hellish nightmare. My legal battles were over 100K, not a mere $5000. I can not study in my field of choice because I can not pass a back ground check. My insurance company is being sued to the max by kids who broke my rules and then drove like fools, and by the way, the driver was NEVER charged with drunk driving, just a dozen other violations, one of which was driving on a suspended licence! But, his parents let him take the car! The second car stopped after they watched their friends crash and then DROVE AWAY! And I was charged because I left to get help? (police reports). The drivers of BOTH vehicles involved that night were recently arrested for selling cocaine and their friend who is suing my insurance company, recently had a party, the police showed up and charged a young man with underage drinking, BUT, no adult was arrested for social hosting? This law was created so that law enforcement could pick and choose who to “make a model” of. It certainly wasn’t created for Caleb Chaffee, Dean Esserman, or a lawyer who knowingly allowed alcohol at a 16th birthday party. Just sayin..

    • HM Epstein
      May 2, 2014

      I am so sorry to hear about your situation. And you have hit the nail on the head: most Social Host Laws are so poorly written that it left to law enforcement to decide who to arrest and who to let go. If you wish to contact me privately, I will wrote about your plight. Socialhostlaw@socialhostlaw.com

  3. Kirk Kirk Law
    April 16, 2014

    You can’t police your kids 24/7.

    • HM Epstein
      April 16, 2014

      Thank you for your interesting column about the issue, from a legal perspective.

  4. Joan
    March 26, 2014

    Glad I don’t have any kids. The muddy waters here are deep and dangerous. What if a kid sneaks in a bottle and spikes their sods or juices while the kids are alone for a second. What if they are already on a drug that they had taken at the other kid’s parents, home before ever arriving at your home? Then, they go out again to cause a car accident, etc. Who then, is responsible? Yikes.. Sad, sobering and frightening.

  5. healthy weight range
    May 7, 2013

    Very good article. I certainly love this website.


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