Underage Drinking & the Law

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

Hunting Parties

Using military tactics, elite squads patrol the streets of many U.S. towns on the lookout for…What? Terrorists? Meth labs? X-Men mutants?

No. They’re hunting parties where minors might be drinking. Like some dystopian futuristic flick, in communities as quintessentially American as Lawrence, Kansas, local police so dissatisfied with the slow but steady decline of teen drinking, have changed their tactics from responding to complaints of underage drinking parties to hunting them down.

In Vista California and in Hingham Massachusetts, units called “party cars” patrol neighborhoods looking for high school graduation or post-prom parties. “Saturation patrols” looking specifically to catch drivers under 21 with any alcohol in their system are the order of the day in Sherwood, Arkansas.

In Lawrence, Kansas, a task force trained to identify potential fake ID situations, earns overtime pay patrolling the streets to catch caterers who didn’t notify them in advance about scheduled events. Yes, the law states all catering firms hired by Lawrence residents must notify the Lawrence chief of police and the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control in advance with the “location, name of the group sponsoring the event, and the exact date and time the caterer will be serving.” If not, the task force may show up to check your guests’ ID.

Un-American? Or one more step across the divide between “persuasion and compulsion” so memorably described in Last Call, Daniel Okrent’s book about Prohibition. As parents and citizens, it’s our job to keep vigil, constantly balancing protecting our children with protecting our rights, and theirs. And our caterers’.

For more information:

Region: Deputies on lookout for hosts of teen alcohol parties

VIDEO: North County News: Social Host Ordinance

Hingham police looking to crack down on underage drinking

Sherwood Police Crackdown on Drunk Driving, Underage Drinking

Underage drinking crackdown shifts from bars to parties

Lawrence, Kansas Alcohol Beverage City Code

2 comments on “Hunting Parties

  1. JamFest 16
    May 6, 2012

    I suspect the cops want to be notified by the caterer’s not just to check for underage drinking, but to grab handfuls of “pigs in a blanket” and spring rolls. Is this really the best use of a police force?

    • SocialHostLaw.com
      May 6, 2012

      I understand you mean this as a joke, but it’s in poor taste. However, I agree that the Lawrence Kansas law that requires that private law-abiding businesses, like caterers, and private law-abiding residents to disclose their plans — especially plans that occur on private property — to the police is a very disturbing one. And, yes, it’s not “the best use of a police force.”

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