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Marin County social host ordinance revised, new penalty

Chris Johnson

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Marin County, home of the highest teen binge drinking rate in California according to San Anselmo Patch in 2014, has set out to decrease that number. High schoolers throw parties no matter where they live, but if an individual is planning on having a party in Marin, they should probably read the Marin County Social Host Ordinance before they go through with it.

The ordinance, which originally passed in 2006, was revised in February 2016 to lock down on teenagers underage drinking in their homes.

The ordinance was updated to confront the problem of drinking and unsupervised parties that occur in Marin.

The ordinance allows enforcement officials to give citations to the person responsible for a gathering at which alcohol is served to, consumed by, or in possession of minors. A first offense citation is $750, with fines increasing for additional violations committed.

“I feel the social host ordinance is pretty effective. Even though it takes multiple offenses before you get in serious trouble, the fine is a lot of money, which many high schoolers can’t afford,” an anonymous senior said, who also thinks it is more effective once you know the punishment.

“It wasn’t on my mind when I did it for the first time, but if I were to ever to do it again I would be much more hesitant due to the punishment.”

The ordinance has set rules and fines for different violations, yet students have not been educated above= it in high school. Junior Noah Bice believes it would be much more effective if the ordinance was taught to high school students to warn them of the serious risks of having a party.

“I think that kids who throw parties don’t know how much trouble they could get into if they got caught, and if they knew they would be much more hesitant.” Bice said.

If a student is caught and cited under the social host ordinance, the school has no jurisdiction to get involved unless it affects the school directly. Assistant principal Chad Stuart believes that it shouldn’t be an obligation of the school to deal with a student who was cited, but he does believe the school should try to prevent it.

“It would be a good topic to include in Social Issues. I think that it’s important for students to know their rights and also the possible consequences of their actions.”

Not only does Marin have the highest teen binge drinking rate in the country, but also the highest binge drinking rate among adults too according to Patch.com. The ordinance puts responsibility on the parents, fining them the money. It also makes the host responsible by sending them into the “restorative justice program” which includes alcohol and drug education classes.

While the county thinks the ordinance might deter kids from having parties, some students disagree.

“When a kid gets caught with his first offense and punished, it might stop them from doing it again, but I don’t think a kid has that in mind when throwing a party for the first time.” senior Ryder Morford said.

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Marin County social host ordinance revised, new penalty