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New Social Host law aims to curb underage drinking

Photo provided by Erie County Legislature Republican Caucus

A new local law approved by Erie County lawmakers has been designed to curb underage drinking.  WBFO's Eileen Buckley reports the Social Host Law would hold adults accountable for allowing minors to drink on their property.

"Underage drinking remains a problem," said Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon. 

County Lawmakers past the law late last week. But it still needs to be signed by County Executive Mark Poloncarz. 

If it receives his approval, any adult allowing minors who not their children to drink at their home could be charged if caught. 

"If you have young people and they come to your house and they are drinking alcohol,whether or not you supplied that alcohol, if you know this is going on then you are responsible and you are committing a crime," said Dixon.

The law was created with the encouragement of the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.  Dixon, who lives Hamburg,has support of the Hamburg Police Department.

"What police tell me is it is really another tool that they can use to combat underage drinking," noted Dixon.

“The Town of Hamburg Police Department would like to thank Legislator Dixon and the County Legislature for passing this important new law. This will be a tool that police departments can use to hold adult property owners responsible for illegal underage drinking that occurs on their property. Despite the recent attention given to teen drug use, alcohol continues to be the most widely used and abused drug within this age group. With the Legislature’s help we will continue to do whatever we can to protect the youth in our community,” said Hamburg Police Chief Mike Williams.

Under the Social Host Law -- any one caught for the first and second time violating it would be fined.  If caught a third time -- they would be charged with a misdemeanor and fined 1-thousand dollars or could end up in jailed for up to one year.

Dixon tells WBFO News if the law is signed it could make it in time for the busy prom and graduation season when many parents would be hosting parties and could prevent them from serving alcohol to minors.