Adult hosts have responsibilities

Friday, March 27, 2015

A new social host law in Iowa makes adults responsible for knowingly allowing consumption of alcohol by anyone 17 or younger on property over which the adult has control.

This adult does not necessarily have to be the property owner. It can be a tenant or an adult in authority at the property in the absence of the owner.

There has always been a law against an adult supplying alcohol to minors, but the social host ordinance applies no matter how the alcohol was initially obtained.

Some adults who host events at which underage drinking takes place have the misguided idea that letting the kids consume alcohol at a celebration is preferable to the alternative of the kids becoming intoxicated on the streets. First, those are not the only two alternatives for celebrating. Secondly, when teens get intoxicated at a party, they will usually leave the party while still intoxicated.

The Cherokee City Council, as well as other city councils across the state, has passed local ordinances in compliance with the state law. A few counties and municipalities have social host ordinances that predate the state law. Most, if not all, of these locally initiated ordinances involve underage drinking by anyone under 21, not just those 17 and under.

We don't understand why the state law does not apply to social hosts of youth from age 18 through 20. The law sends a mixed message to both teens and those who are responsible for them.