Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories




– July 30, 2003



of Problem










With support from the OJJDP

Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative, community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned citizens are working collaboratively to

change local ordinances and enforcement practices.


San Diego Gets Social Host Ordinance


in San Diego have won passage of an ordinance that penalizes adults for

providing alcohol to minors. The new ordinance closes an important

loophole in local code and is the next step in reducing underage drinking

in the San Diego area.

The City of San Diego is home to about 1.5 million people spread over 342

square miles, and it anchors a metropolitan area of more than 3 million

people in 19 different municipalities. Like many large urban areas, much

of the underage drinking in San Diego takes place at house parties.

The San Diego County Policy Panel on Youth Access to Alcohol has lead

efforts to reduce and prevent underage drinking in the metropolitan area.

The Policy Panel is a nongovernmental coalition of community groups, law

enforcement, governmental officials, school administrators, healthcare

professionals, and others. In the past few years, the Panel has

successfully implemented a compliance check program that has led to

reductions in sales of alcohol to minors.

With sales reduced, members of the Policy Panel realized that many youth

were still obtaining alcohol from parents or adult friends. A survey of

youth in a local town revealed that 57% of youth reported drinking at

friends? homes, and 30% reported drinking at home with their parents?

permission. Based on this data and information from the Enforcing Underage

Drinking Laws program, the Policy Panel decided to pursue a social host ordinance

as the next step in reducing underage drinking in the city of San Diego.

Among the many supporters of the ordinance, local police took particular interest.

San Diego Police Department records indicate that officers responded to 7,519 calls

for service related to parties in 2001; the calls cost 4,219 hours of police time

and some $298 thousand in expense. Although they do not compile data specific to

underage parties, many of these parties did involve minors. Law enforcement officials

looked to a solid social host ordinance to help reduce some of the time and money spent

responding to these calls.

In San Diego, Policy Panel members worked hard to get a social host bill

introduced. They spent much time meeting with and briefing members of the

City Council to ensure support for the measure and received help from

Council member Brian Maienschein, who shepherded the bill through

committee and council votes. It passed on April 21, 2003, and took effect

thirty days after ratification. Under the ordinance, adults and minors who

allow groups of three or more people younger than age 21 to drink alcohol

in their homes face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000.

Other cities in San Diego County have also taken an interest in social

host policies. Since the ratification of San Diego?s measure, the

following cities have implemented a social host ordinance: Poway,

Oceanside, Encinitas, La Mesa, Escondido, El Cajon, Santee and the

unincorporated areas of San Diego County.


For more information, contact

Judy Wash-Jackson at

[email protected] or




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Underage Drinking: Success Stories
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