Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon, County Legislators, the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Hamburg Police Department and community supporters announce the passage of a local law that makes adults responsible for allowing minors to consume alcohol on their property in hopes of curbing the careless approach many adults take concerning underage drinking. The passage of the law was announced at a press conference held at the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.
“Allowing minors, who are not your children, to drink under your supervision is dangerous and irresponsible. These young people are not capable of handling the risks involved with drinking, and as adults we need to be responsible for keeping them safe,” said Legislator Dixon. “This time of year, especially, with prom and graduation, teens are at a higher risk of attending an underage drinking party. The consequences of these social events can be serious. As parents, we need to come together to protect not only our own children but those who come onto our property. This law simply makes property owners responsible for the activities that happen at their home to ensure we are taking every precaution to keep teens safe.”
The adopted, “Social Host Law” makes adults accountable for their actions in the event that minors were drinking on their property. This applies to situations where parents were present, as well as incidents where the parent was away but had knowledge that teens would be drinking on their property.
The local law was approved at the May 8, 2014 Legislative Session. Legislator Dixon said the creation of the law was a partnership with Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, which is committed to combating underage drinking.
“The mission of our agency is to support the health and wellness of individuals, families and communities by focusing on solutions to alcohol and other drug misuse, addiction, and unhealthy behaviors. The passage of this law is in alignment with our mission and will help us start a conversation with community members about the ramifications of underage drinking and provide ideas and strategies for parents as they are faced with difficult situations,” said Andrea J. Wanat, MA, CPP, Executive Director for the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
“The Town of Hamburg Police Department would like to thank Legislator Dixon and the County Legislature for passing this important new law. This will be a tool that police departments can use to hold adult property owners responsible for illegal underage drinking that occurs on their property. Despite the recent attention given to teen drug use, alcohol continues to be the most widely used and abused drug within this age group. With the Legislature’s help we will continue to do whatever we can to protect the youth in our community,” said Hamburg Police Chief Mike Williams.
Offenders of the law will be charged with a violation and fined $250 for the first offense and $500 for the second offense. On the third and subsequent offenses, offenders could be charged with a misdemeanor fined $1,000 or jailed for up to a year.
The local law still needs authorization from the County Executive. Following his expected approval, the law will go into effect immediately.
To review a copy of the local law or for additional Erie County Legislature news, please visit www.erie.gov/legislature.