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Teen girls outnumber boys in their misuse of prescription drugs.

Social Host Ordinance Frequently Asked Questions

Is it not already illegal for kids to drink alcohol?

It is illegal for minors, under 21, to purchase, attempt to purchase or use alcoholic beverages (KRS 241.010, KRS244.085)

Don’t existing state laws cover this?

Many think that it is covered under the “Endangering the Welfare of a Minor” and/or under the “Unlawful Transaction with Minor in the third degree”; however, there are loopholes with both. A Social Host Ordinance would address these loopholes.

What are the loopholes?

KRS 530.060, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor states, “A parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the care and custody of a minor is guilty of endangering the welfare of a minor when he fails or refuses to exercise reasonable diligence in the control of such child to prevent him from becoming a neglected, dependent or delinquent child.” According to the Kentucky Penal Code Laws, a minor is someone under the age of 18 with the exception for the purchase of alcohol beverages. A Social Host Ordinance would close the loophole to cover those aged 18-20.

KRS 530.070, Unlawful Transaction with Minor in the third degree states:

  1. A person is guilty of unlawful transaction with a minor in the third when:
    • Acting other than as a retail licensee, he knowingly sells, gives, purchases or procures any alcoholic or malt beverage in any form to or for a minor. The defendant may prove in exculpation that the sale was induced by the use of false, fraudulent, or altered identification papers or other documents and that the appearance and character of the purchaser were such that his age could not have been ascertained by any other means and that the purchaser's appearance and character indicated strongly that he was of legal age to purchase alcoholic beverages. This subsection does not apply to a parent or guardian of the minor;
    • He knowingly induces, assists, or causes a minor to engage in any other
      criminal activity;
    • He knowingly induces, assists or causes a minor to become a habitual truant; or
    • He persistently and knowingly induces, assists or causes a minor to disobey
      his parent or guardian.
  2. Unlawful transaction with a minor in the third is a Class A misdemeanor.

Per KRS 530.070, any person who knowingly sells, furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given away, any alcoholic beverage to a minor is guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor. The penalty for a Class A Misdemeanor involves up to 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine up to $500.

But here’s the loophole. While it is illegal for adults to “knowingly” allow under 18 minors to engage in criminal activity, and it is illegal to fail to use reasonable diligence to make sure under 18 minors in your care don’t become “delinquent”, it can be very difficult in a court of law to prove whether someone intentionally violated these statutes. Likewise, and certainly even more defensible as a demonstration of the loophole in the law, there is no law that addresses the “endangering the welfare of” or under the “unlawful transactions with” minors over the age of 18. While it is still illegal for under 21 minors to purchase, use or possess alcohol, it is no longer any adult’s responsibility to make certain that they do not. Thus, if groups of high school seniors or college freshmen (18-20 years of age) want to party in your basement, back yard or field as long as you do not provide the alcohol, you are not legally accountable for that activity.

Will this violate my property rights?

A Social Host Ordinance is not going to negatively impact anyone who does not permit those under the age of 21 to drink alcohol in his or her home or on his or her property. As long as you don’t break the law, no one will ever have any reason to set foot on your land.

What if I just “don’t know” what my kid was doing with his/her friends?

A Social Host Ordinance would state that no adult who owns or controls a private residence or private premise should allow a party to take place or continue if a minor (under the age of 21) at the party obtains, possesses, or consumes any alcoholic beverages and the adult knows or reasonably should know that the minor (under the age of 21) has obtained, possesses, or is consuming alcoholic beverages. If a parent/adult is present, the parent/adults should know what is taking place.

What if a person 18-20 years old was hosting an underage drinking party?

A Social Host Ordinance would state that anyone under the age of 21, acting as a social host, with no parents or guardians present shall be guilty and subjected to the penalties described in the Social Host Ordinance.

Isn’t it safer to have minors drink at home?

Many parents want to be “cool” and truly believe it is better and safer for their minor and friends to drink at home as long as they take their car keys away; however, for many reasons, they are wrong. Frequently the parents of the others under the age of 21 are unaware that drinking occurs in what they perceived to be a supervised environment. It is always illegal for those under 21 to possess and consume alcohol and there are numerous other hazards besides drinking and driving. There are risks involved with violence, brain development, high-risk sex, other drug use, alcohol poisoning, homicide, suicide and infinite other possible injuries. All parents and concerned adults need to send a consistent message that underage alcohol use is illegal and dangerous. Underage drinking is not a right of passage into adulthood.