Does Orange County Have a Social Host Ordinance?

hands holding wine glasses

Since people started drinking alcohol, they’ve been drinking it in other people’s homes and this applies to teenagers and young adults as well. We cannot ignore the fact that America’s youth consume alcohol in their friend’s homes and sometimes while adults are present.

For many parents, they’d rather their kids be drinking at home instead of while out in public or at parties with complete strangers. But this practice falls under question by some who feel it’s legally and morally wrong to condone underage drinking, even if it’s under a parent’s supervision. This issue brings us to Social Host Ordinances. What are they and what do they mean?

An SHO holds adults accountable when they knowingly host a gathering where alcohol is being consumed by people under the age of 21.

Social Host Ordinances Explained

The Orange County Board of Supervisors rejected a proposed Social Host Ordinance, 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.

According to the, 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 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 the 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.

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