Whats the Teen Party Law?



TTFWDD Teen SHO Radio Spot.mp3

What is the Teen Party Law (Social Host Liability Ordinance)?

A  local ordinance that holds individuals responsible for hosting or providing a venue for gatherings where minors are possessing or consuming alcohol, marijuana, or controlled substances.   A “Social Host” refers to a person who allows underage drinking or drug use on property that he/she owns, leases, or otherwise controls. This includes hosting on publically controlled lands like piers, docks, campgrounds, and even hotel rooms.

What are the penalties for violating the proposed Social Host Ordinance?

I: A citation.  First offense: $250; second offense: $500; third offense: $1000. (North Tahoe's ordinance does not specify what the citation will be).    In both North Tahoe and Truckee  the responsible party may be held liable for police service costs and expenses incurred  if personnel are called back to the same location within 12 months.

How do I report a party where minors are using drugs and alcohol?

To report an event where you believe underage drinking or drug use is occurring, please contact the Truckee Police Department’s Dispatch at (530)550-2320 or Placer County Sheriff's Substation in Tahoe City at 530 581-6305.

I thought providing drugs or alcohol to a minor was already illegal. How is a Social Host Liability Ordinance different than what already exists?

State law prohibits furnishing alcohol to individuals under 21.  Marijuana and controlled substances are illegal; however, when law enforcement arrives on the scene of a teen party, it is often difficult to determine who actually provided the alcohol or drugs.  A Social Host Liability Ordinance allows law enforcement to cite the individual who hosts or provides the setting for underage drinking and drug use to take place.

Why does this ordinance target parties that occur on private residences and premises?

Parties and gatherings on private property have repeatedly been identified as the primary source by which youth obtain alcohol and drugs. Young people who drink or use drugs tell us that they most often use at parties/events and get their alcohol, marijuana, or pills from a friend, older sibling, parent, or relative.


Won’t this law create more work for our already overburdened police department and emergency responders?

No.  Law enforcement and emergency responders are already called out to disperse underage parties where minors are consuming alcohol or drugs.  They often need to respond multiple times, which can delay police responses to other emergency calls.  The Social Host Liability Ordinance gives them an additional tool to more easily hold the responsible party accountable

If all kids are going to drink, smoke marijuana, or use drugs anyway, isn’t it better to “take the keys” and provide them a safe environment?

No! The truth is that there are more negative outcome of underage drinking and drug use than just impaired driving.

  • Research shows that adolescent drug and alcohol use affects the development of a teen’s brain and body, while increasing their risk of developing substance abuse problems as an adult.

  • Teen parties often involve binge drinking (5+ drinks on one occasion) or combining alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, which greatly increases the risk of: poisoning, accidents, injury, motor vehicle crashes, violence, sexual abuse, and unprotected sex.

  • It’s wrong to assume that “all kids are going to drink and smoke pot anyway.” Teens face a great deal of peer pressure to drink, smoke, or use drugs. However many teens choose not to and are often looking for a “way out.” Adults need to support teens in making healthy decisions—not encourage unhealthy decisions.

Why is this ordinance good legislation for our town?

This ordinance addresses the problem of underage drinking and drug use where it most frequently occurs—in homes and on other private or public property. Underage parties with drugs or alcohol, even casual gatherings with just a few teens, can easily spiral out of control. The proposed ordinance will do the following:

  • Encourage parents/adults and teens to avoid unsafe environments that foster high risk, destructive behavior.
  • Provide parents peace of mind by knowing that when their child is at someone else’s home, it is illegal for another adult or juvenile to let them consume alcohol, marijuana, or controlled substances.
  • Hold both teens and adults accountable for their behavior.
  • Provide law enforcement an important tool to prevent tragedy rather than react to it.
  • Assist and support parents and their children to communicate and make wise decisions.
  • Reinforce a clear and consistent community-wide message that underage drinking is unhealthy, unsafe, and unacceptable.

Do you really expect this ordinance to solve the issue of local underage drinking and drug use?

No. A Social Host Liability Ordinance is only part of a successful and comprehensive approach for communities addressing teen substance use.  The larger goals are:

1) To change the “social norms” of teen drug and alcohol use. 

2) To reaffirm our common values that underage drug and alcohol use is not a rite of passage, inevitable, or acceptable. 

3) To support those parents who are trying to ensure their teens do not use drugs or alcohol.

More about Teen Drinking and Drug Use:

What ‘s the Problem?

Teen substance use is American’s #1 public health Problem.  (CASA 2011) According to the Centers for Disease Control, (2006). Substance Use is associated with the three leading causes of death among teens: 

1. Accidents

2. Homicides

3. Suicides


Heavy marijuana use is associated with cognitive impairments and structural changes in the teen brain.  A single dose of prescription opioids can cause severe respiratory depression or death.  


Local survey results paint a disturbing picture of our teen’s drinking and drug use norms.  Truckee’s teen drinking rates are some of the highest in the state of California and have reached crisis levels. 36% of our high school freshman will drink at least once in the next 30 days.  This is 80% higher than Ca. State averages.    Binge drinking, defined as drinking 5 or more drinks in a row, is a particularly high risk form of drinking.  23% of Truckee 9th graders report past month binge drinking, 109% higher than state averages. (TTUSD California Health Kids Survey  2014). 


The research on binge drinking and youth access to alcohol and drugs is supported by recent reports of parents providing alcohol at end-of-the year parties ( TT-FWDD Data Findings, 2014).  Such parties can be particularly problematic because of the large number of drinkers and the significant amount of alcohol individuals consume when binge drinking. Teens also report they get marijuana and pills at these same parties.


Teens experience a wide range of problems when they are involved with binge drinking and or drug use.  Violence, including sexual assault and fights, accidents, alcohol poisoning, motor vehicle crashes, unsafe sex, lowered school performance are a few of the issues directly connected to teen alcohol and drug use. 


In addition, due to changes in brain chemistry caused by drugs and alcohol, youth who drink or use drugs before they turn age 15 are four times more likely to develop addiction than those who start at 21, according to the National Institute of Health.