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15 Shots Killed Shelby Allen

What's perhaps more shocking is that the 17-year-old drank them at a friend's house, while the parents were home. Here, how her mom is fighting to make sure no other child dies this way

The New Laws continued...

What Exactly Are Social-Hosting Laws

Since 2004, social-hosting laws, which hold adults legally responsible - criminally and/or civilly - for hosting parties where underage drinking occurs, have come under increased scrutiny. The laws exist at both state and local levels, and they vary. At the state level, all social-host laws are criminal - that can mean offenders can go to jail if found guilty. But at the local level, the laws are either criminal or civil - civil means the offender will get a ticket or a public-nuisance fine (often around $1,000).

What's the Purpose

The laws try to deter underage drinking by reducing the incidence of parties at which youths consume alcohol on private property. Additionally, the laws encourage parents to keep closer watch on what teens are doing in their home. Notes Jim Mosher, lead legal researcher for the Alcohol Policy Information System: "Social-host laws give parents an incentive to intervene and change social norms. They can say [to their kids or other parents], 'This party is illegal. Are you going to pay the $1,000 fine?' "

Does My Area Have a Social-Hosting Law

These laws exist in 27 states - AK, AL, AR, AZ, CT, FL, HI, IL, KS, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, NH, NJ, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, UT, WA, WI, and WY. To see if your community has social-hosting laws, call your chief of police or the town hall.

How do I Get These Laws Passed in My Area?

If none exist, first contact your state representative for the Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program (; ask if there's a coalition working on social-hosting laws that you can join.

If there isn't a coalition already at work, you'll need to propose the law to your city council. Gather info on teen drinking in your area, assemble a team of backers - say, your chief of police, a local principal, and the head of a local teen center - and approach your city council. Another important step: Be sure to bring a sample local ordinance from a town that has one. You can print one one from - AMD


Originally published on March 24, 2011

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