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Does Orange County Have a Social Host Ordinance?

The Orange County Board of Supervisors rejected a proposed Social Host Ordinance (SHO), which was initiated by Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who happens to be a MADD Outstanding Prosecutor awardee. The proposed SHO would have been enforceable in the unincorporated sections of Orange County.

Supervisor Spitzer championed the ordinance in hopes of raising awareness of the widespread problem of underage drinking and driving that plagues Orange County.

“I will continue to advocate for the SHO and its use as a prevention tool in Orange County,” said Spitzer.

What is a social ordinance and what does it mean to people who host parties? An SHO holds adults accountable when they knowingly host a gathering where alcohol is being consumed by people under the age of 21.

According to the ocgov.com, underage drinking and driving has reached epidemic proportions, and in one year in Orange County, there were nearly 1,000 underage DUI convictions, and 150 minors in Orange County had caused serious bodily injury or death in a DUI incident. Further, 52% of underage minors consume alcohol at a friend’s home.

If the Social Host Ordinance had been passed, adults responsible for knowingly hosting an underage gathering where alcohol was being consumed by their guests, would have faced the following penalties:

  • $750 administrative fine (first violation)
  • Subsequent violations would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine

Currently, eight (8) cities in Orange County enforce a Social Host Ordinance, including: Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, La Habra, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Orange, and Irvine.

There are a number of other California counties that have a SHO, these include: San Diego, Contra Costa, San Bernardino, Santa Barbra, Santa Clara, and Sacramento, and Ventura counties. Thus far, neighboring Los Angeles County is not on that list.

If you live in one of the eight cities that enforce the Social Host Ordinance, and you are facing fines and misdemeanor charges, you are urged to contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc.