Students propose “Social Hosts law” to hold parents responsible for hosting underage drinking parties

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WETM) – Members of the Schuyler County Coalition Against Underage Drinking and Drugs (SCCUDD) and Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph G. Fazzary proposed a new local law that would hold “Social Hosts” criminally liable for providing alcohol and drugs to children under 21 years of age or for hosting a gathering where children are permitted to drink or use drugs.

The presentation was made to the Public Safety Committee of Schuyler County on Monday morning.

The District Attorney’s Office says the proposed law “does not target parents who legally permit their own child to drink alcohol and provides an exception for medical marijuana.”

The Public Safety Committee approved the legislation after hearing from DA Fazzary, Ward Brower (Director of SCCUDD), Maisie Robertson (Sophomore at Watkins Glen Central School District), Melanie Wysocki (Senior at Watkins Glen Central School District), and a statement read on behalf of Aidan Thurston (Senior at Odessa Montour Central School District).

According to SCCUDD, the 2020 Schuyler County Youth Survey found that alcohol use and perception of risk amongst teens has decreased slightly. However, the survey also shows that there is a higher rate of marijuana and prescription drug use among teens in Schuyler County. Almost half of Schuyler County teens (46.4%) believe that a close family member has a substance abuse problem.

The next step in the process is for the proposed legislation to go before the Legislative Review Committee of the Schuyler County Legislature. If it passes the LRC, it will then be put on the agenda for a public hearing in September 2021.

The proposed Social Host law is being sponsored by the District Attorney’s Office, The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department, the Schuyler County Probation Department, The Schuyler County Attorney’s Office, and SCCUDD. If found guilty of violating this law, a social host can be fined $250.00 and spend 15 days in jail. Subsequent violations by the same host will result in more significant sanctions.

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