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Continued: Social host ordinances help curb underage drinking

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 28, 2014 - 9:38 PM

In one high-profile case, Kevin Brockway, 16, wrapped his car around a tree, killing himself and seriously injuring his passenger, after the two left a party in St. Paul in 1998. A 16-year-old friend had talked her dad into buying a keg and root-beer schnapps for her New Year’s Eve party.

The father had set the rules: No one was to get drunk and no one was to drive. He thought that would ensure the kids’ safety.

The ordinance does not apply to people who allow their son or daughter to have a glass of wine with dinner or during a religious observance.

Cracking down on campus

In St. Paul, Lt. Paul Paulos said the social host ordinance is enforced “quite frequently,” mostly in and around college campuses.

“It controls the disorderly conduct or lewd conduct — urinating in public and so forth,” he said.

Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal said a copy of the social host ordinance is included with orientation materials for students at the University of Minnesota.

“We have not actually charged cases that often,” she said. “The Minneapolis Police Department and the University of Minnesota have really used it as an educational and preventive tool as much as a prosecution tool.”

It’s also used to dissuade apartment complexes that hold beer parties to try to attract younger tenants, Segal said.

Most city ordinances are prosecuted by the city attorney’s office.

In Scott County, the county attorney’s office prosecutes all city and county cases. Last year, there were 13 social host ordinance citations, said County Attorney Pat Ciliberto.

“We here in Scott County believe it’s a very effective tool in combating underage drinking,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, I do not recall anyone being a repeat offender.”


Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284

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