Halloween a Reminder of Oklahoma’s Social Host Law

By LINDA PROVOST, The Duncan Banner | October 30, 2018

This Halloween, having fun shouldn’t be a problem. The only problem that could come is if you allow minors to drink alcohol at your residence.

This is part of Oklahoma’s Social Host Law.

The Duncan Banner reports members of the Wichita Mountains Prevention Network (WMPN), a substance abuse prevention group, want to remind homeowners that they could be liable for more than just hangovers.

Jillian Latimer, WMPN’s Prevention Specialist, said although most people already know it’s illegal to buy alcohol for a minor, many people don’t yet fully understand Oklahoma’s Social Host Law. This law invokes graduated penalties meant to deter and ultimately prevent dangerous gatherings from taking place before a child is seriously injured or a death occurs.

“Essentially Oklahoma’s Social Host Law puts the responsibility on the parents to make sure kids aren’t drinking in their home or on their property,” she said. “If kids under the age of 21 are drinking at a gathering and you’re providing the location for that gathering, you’re responsible. It doesn’t matter if you are an adult or minor or whether or not you rent, own, or simply provide the location. Additionally, you don’t have to be physically present or the actual property owner to be held accountable.”

According to information from WMPN, first time violations carry a fine of up to $500. If someone is injured or killed because of a social host violation, the “host” can be charged with a felony punishable by up to five years in prison along with a fine of up to $5,000. Fines increase with additional violations and three offenses carry a felony conviction with up to five years in prison and a fine up to $2,500.

Latimer said even without the legal ramifications there are many other negative consequences from underage drinking that may include drunk driving, death or injuries in motor vehicle crashes, unintentional injury from a variety of sources, physical assault, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, academic problems, health problems, and suicide attempts just to name a few.

“Halloween is a fun holiday when we all want to have a good time but we also want everyone to be safe,” Latimer said. “Oklahoma’s Social Host Law is meant to keep kids safe and out of trouble and to prevent potential tragedies from occurring. If we are proactive with preventing underage drinking situations, we don’t have to be reactive after a tragedy happens because of the same situation.”

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