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City should approve Social Host Ordinance

August 18, 2011

The Marshalltown Police Department has introduced a proposed ordinance that would make hosts of underage drinking parties responsible for their actions.

We applaud this measure brought to the city council by Interim Police Chief Jack McAllister, who wants to take the guessing game out of serious police work.

Presently, most folks don't step forth to admit they've supplied underage people with alcohol or controlled substances. Therefore, the police lose ground as far as pursuing charges when nobody admits fault.

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The Social Host Ordinance would mean whomever is hosting a party for underage drinking will be charged. At the same time it doesn't focus on the property owner, parent or adult.

If an underage youth throws a party while mom and dad are out of town, the kid can expect to receive a fine instead of the parents. However, if the parents knowingly have underage drinking in their homes, they would be charged.

Adults who provide alcohol for a party would be charged with a criminal misdemeanor fine. Meanwhile, those who are under the legal drinking age would receive a juvenile violation. Both could also be subject to a civil violation, for the labor-intensive work behind breaking up an underage drinking party.

We urge the city council to approve this measure at its Monday meeting. Let's put the responsibility of underage drinking on those who host the parties and allow our police officers to do their jobs more efficiently.



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