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Ask a Trooper: What is ‘Social Hosting’?

October 17, 2014
By Trooper Vince Kurtz - Iowa State Patrol Safety Education , Estherville News

Question: What is Iowa's new 'Social Hosting' law?

A. Requires large corporations to host parties for employees on a semi-annual basis.

B. Requires party hosts to be cordial to all guests, even party crashers.

C. Penalizes adults for knowingly providing alcohol and/or a place to consume alcohol to underage drinkers.

Let me give you a hintwhen in doubt always choose option 'C'. On the serious side, if you haven't heard of Iowa's new 'Social Hosting Law' you are not alone. Effective on July 1 the 'Social Hosting Law' enacted stiff penalties on those who provide alcohol to minors. It also prohibits adults from knowingly providing a location for these minors to consume alcohol.

It is no secret that underage drinking has been the elephant in the room for years. For many it was seen as taboo, something that good kids would never even consider. There has always been the flip side of this coin, however. The 'kids will be kids' mentality sees underage drinking as a rite of passage. One that is O.K. because everyone is doing it and something would never happen to my kidit's always someone else's kid

This mindset has evolved into the idea that introducing teens to alcohol in a controlled setting would teach them to use alcohol responsibly. And so the theory of 'Social Hosting' was born. More and more studies are showing this theory to be flawed, in fact, producing the opposite effect. A recent review of 22 separate studies led the lead researcher to conclude that,

"by allowing alcohol use at a young age, parents might increase the risk for progression toward unsupervised drinking more rapidly than it would otherwise have been." Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Volume 75, Issue 4 July 2014

While good intentioned, the idea of introducing alcohol to the underage is not only illegal, but detrimental in the long run. The fine amount for this violation was set at $200 for the first offense and $500 for second and subsequent offenses (Iowa Code 123.47).

This may sound too little for some and too much for others. But the dollars and cents will never be the definitive punishment. That will be the civil liability for providing alcohol to the teen that is killed in the crashand the heartache that comes from living with that decision the rest of your life.



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