Veto social host vagueness

The ill-defined ordinance could lead to abuses of the law.

The City Council unanimously passed the controversial social hosting ordinance Friday, so those looking to throw a party will have to be extra careful when drawing up guest lists. This ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to host a gathering where the host knows or should know that a person under 21 is using, has possession of or intends to use alcohol. Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail. The lawâÄôs vague language, however, could make enforcement problematic. How will a law enforcement officer determine âÄúwhen the [host] knows or has reason to knowâÄù that an underage person will drink? Party hosts do not check IDs. It is not totally unreasonable to expect this. It is unreasonable, however, to expect party hosts to have omnipresent omniscience (something typically reserved for God) regarding party attendance. Social host ordinances are not the answer to curb underage drinking or stop out-of-control parties. Noisy assembly ordinances, minor-in-possession, minor-in-consumption and distributing-to-minor laws should be enough to stop a party in its tracks and punish those responsible for any legal infractions. Police should be slapping minors on those who choose to break the law instead of upon those who choose to throw a party. It will be interesting to see how many social hosting cases arise this spring. Until then, Mayor R.T. Rybak might exercise a veto and show students which gubernatorial candidate will listen.