Underage Drinking & the Law

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

This isn’t what they mean by “Just Say No”

Last Friday night, the Brookfield, Wisconsin police’s efforts to bust an underage drinking party were frustrated by the teenage host’s refusal to let them enter. When they called the father, who was in Arizona, he supported his high-schoolers’ decision. So, the police left.

The police left? According to the on-line article, Captain James Adlam said “…we don’t know if there was underage drinking or not. They wouldn’t allow us in. And that is their right,”

Did you know you have the right to just say no to law enforcement if they arrive without a search warrant? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on what your community’s law enforcement and district attorney consider sufficient evidence. If they witness someone breaking a law, they won’t need a search warrant. If they get an anonymous tip but don’t see any littered beer bottles, or stumbling teens outside the house, chances are they won’t go marching in.

It’s happened before; sometimes, with seriocomical results.  In 2004, in an upscale community in southern Westchester county, New York, teens barred the police from entering, dimmed the lights, shut off their cell-phones and the stereo, and pretended no one was home. However, the officer on the scene had an epiphany. He noticed all the expensive foreign cars on the street and used the license plates to get contact information for the partier’s parents. Soon, the street filled with parents armed with police bullhorns pleading, scolding and cajoling their children to come out or suffer consequences. They didn’t.

Over 300 online readers of The Journal Sentinel have been passionately arguing the many facets of this story. What do you think?


To learn more:

Brookfield dad refuses to let police check house for underage drinking – May 17, 2011 – The Journal Sentinel – Byline: Mike Johnson

3 comments on “This isn’t what they mean by “Just Say No”

  1. hardware
    July 15, 2011

    Right on!

  2. toasty redhead
    May 28, 2011

    Thank you for a great post.

    • H. M. Epstein
      May 31, 2011

      Thank you for your comment. Sorry it got locked in the spam filter for Memorial Day weekend.

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