Underage Drinking & the Law

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

For Lawmakers & Councils

Help is here if you are writing Social Host Laws.

Social Host Laws are a group of criminal and civil laws targeting people who permit minors to drink alcohol on their property. Who is targeted, what is prohibited and what penalties apply vary greatly by community. Some penalize adults only, others penalize the minors. Some are clearly written, easy to understand, enforce and obey. Others are so poorly or broadly written, they verge on being unconstitutional.

At the very least, badly written laws confuse the courts, the citizenry and law enforcement which can lead to extremes in enforcement levels (low and high) and court challenges.

If you are writing or advocating for a Social Host Law, it is your responsibility to ensure it’s equitably and well-written; that it upholds common evidentiary standards and that it serves the best interests of your community.

We believe that better enforcement of existing laws would be preferable to muddying the waters with a new, confusing law. After all, underage use of alcohol is at record low levels. We must be doing something right.

The following links may provide you with helpful information:


What is a Social Host? What are Social Host Laws (SHLs)? What happens if I get charged as a Social Host? Why are Social Host Laws (SHLs) controversial?…[more]

Social Host Law Primer

Any law can be difficult to decipher but we all need to understand what our local Social Host Law covers.  Though we’re not planning to break the law…[more]

Three steps to a successful Social Host Ordinance

At last count, thousands of municipalities and communities have passed a version of a Social Host law or ordinance over the past 25 years. It’s difficult to compare results from community to community because the laws vary widely by scope, target, definitions and penalties. However, we have been …[more]

Where do kids get their alcohol?

NOT from their parents. Surprised? I was. With all the furor about “permissive” parents providing alcohol to their older teens,  I expected to learn that the majority of underage drinkers…[more]

Statistics -2012

Alcohol use among teens maintained historic lows in 2012, continuing a long-term gradual decline…[more]

Charts, Graphs & Reports

Just like it sounds; the latest data on underage alcohol use.

Resources & Links

Where to find state laws. Where to find local laws. Alcohol & Drug Research. Not-for-Profit Organizations on Underage Drinking Issues. Drug Policy & Enforcement Sites…[more]

Social Host Laws by State

The following maps and charts are the most recent versions available from APIS* (Alcohol Policy Information System)…[more]

Sample Social Host Laws

These five documents offer excellent examples of how broad is the range of Social Host legislation.The first five are existing statutes…[more]

Pending State Legislation

The following states are considering new Social Host Laws, or revisions to existing SHLs. Note the legislative process is purposely serpentine and…[more]

State Legislative Process

There are a lot of steps between a bill being proposed and becoming the law of the land. Each state has their own twist on the process. However, all of them share one objective…[more]

This Page is For You

This is a place for you to share what’s happening where you live. We want to hear your stories and opinions. Please share them with us.

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