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Governor signs statewide social host bill same day as teen-drinking prevention conference

August 27th, 2010 · No Comments · Government, Safety

Adults in the state of California who serve alcohol to underage youth now could be held liable if the minors are injured or killed, under legislation signed by the governor last week. California becomes one of just a few states with a social host liability law that holds adults accountable for underage drinking.

Underscoring the significance, the signing came one day after a 20-year-old, whom Anaheim police say had been drinking, fell 25 feet from a Disney theme park ride, injuring himself.
The social host legislation is part of a community-based approach to reduce underage drinking and the negative consequences that often result. Out-of-control house parties, with hundreds of teens drinking alcohol, are a major concern for law enforcement. Police arrive to find intoxicated and passed-out teens, fights breaking out and kids scattering to avoid arrest.
Last week in Anaheim, the nation’s largest conference of people dedicated to underage drinking prevention gathered at the 12th Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws (EUDL) Annual National Leadership Conference sponsored by the
US Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The conference coincides with the 24th annual meeting of the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, which brings together law enforcement experts from throughout the United States and Canada.
More than 2,000 alcohol-enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors, community members, and young people shared success stories on the best ways for communities to confront underage drinking. The National Leadership Conference hosted more than 100 workshops on topics ranging from teen house parties and college drinking to athletes and alcohol and underage DUI offenders. Alcohol-enforcement officers conducted on-site activities that included a mock party bust with teens pretending to be drinking.
Underage drinking kills and injures more young people than all other illegal drugs combined. Every year underage drinking kills 5,000 young people under age 21. These deaths are a result of car crashes, homicides, suicides and a host of other alcohol-related injuries.
College drinking alone leads to 430,000 violent assaults, nearly 50,000 sexual assaults and 300,000 unintentional injuries by students under 21, according to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA).
In the last two years, OJJDP has encouraged judges, prosecutors and probation officials to address youth alcohol problems. “Judges face unique challenges and opportunities in their dealings with youth offenders related to underage drinking and underage alcohol problems.” said Marilyn Roberts, OJJDP’s Deputy Administrator for Programs.  “This conference brings together many who are involved in various aspects of the solution to prevent and reduce underage drinking.”
“Increasing protection for youth through education, prevention and enforcement has always been a high priority and will continue to be a top priority of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control,” said Steve Hardy, director of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control. “Too many young lives are lost each year because of underage drinking.”

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