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  • Gregory Allen

Underage Drinking in Farmington; Social Host Ordinance

What is the Problem?

Survey results show that local teens continue to drink and binge drink at a high rate. 28% of 9th-12th grade students are current drinkers, defined as drinking in the last 30 days [San Juan County Youth Risk and Resilience Survey (YRRS), 2011]. 16% are binge drinkers, defined as five or more drinks for males or four or more drinks for females in two hours. 23% drank before the age of 13. Many adults dismiss underage drinking as a “rite of passage,” a misconception based on the myth that alcohol is a relatively harmless substance compared to illegal drugs. The truth is that teens experience a wide range of problems when they are involved with alcohol and binge drinking. Violence, including sexual assaults and fights, accidents, alcohol poisoning and lowered school performance are a few of the issues directly connected to teen alcohol use. In addition, due to changes in brain chemistry caused by alcohol, youth who drink before they turn age 15, are five times more likely to develop alcohol addiction than those who start drinking at 21, according to the National Institute of Health.

What is a Social Host Ordinance?

One of the tools that can be used in communities to solve this problem is the implementation of a social host ordinance. It is a powerful policy approach that our community can utilize to reduce underage drinking and related problems.

Social host accountability refers to holding non-commercial individuals responsible for underage drinking on property that they directly control. A social host ordinance:

  • acknowledges that persons have a duty to ensure that alcoholic beverages are not served to or consumed by underage persons;

  • acknowledges that law enforcement, fire or other emergency services often need to respond multiple times to disperse underage drinking parties, resulting in a disproportionate expenditure of public safety resources, delaying police responses to regular and emergency situations and reducing police services to the rest of the community;

  • recognizes that communities need a variety of enforcement strategies to abate underage drinking parties under varying circumstances and that present policy constrains the ability of law enforcement to deter underage drinking parties.

Why should we Care?

Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said, “The problem of underage drinking in our community is serious. Many steps have been taken to keep alcohol out of the hands of kids and underage adults. However, one persistent problem has been people providing a sort of “safe haven” for underage drinkers. This ends with large fights, assaults, sexual assaults and more DUI’s in our community. The message from the community must be clear...underage drinking is dangerous, hurts our community and must not be allowed to happen. By establishing this ordinance, the police department will have another tool to curb this significant problem.”

Who is involved?

  • San Juan County Partnership

  • Farmington Police Department

  • Sycamore Community Center

  • San Juan Safe Communities Initiative

  • Farmington Municipal Schools

  • Bloomfield Municipal Schools

  • Juvenile Probation

  • NWNM Sexual Assault Services

  • Farmington Public Library: Teen Zone

  • San Juan Regional Medical Center: Emergency Services Department

  • City of Farmington Community Relations Commission

Email San Juan County Partnership to get involved!!

Or call San Juan County Partnership at 566-5867.

Would you support a Social Host Ordinance in Farmington?

Please let us know if you support a Social Host Ordinance by clicking here.

(two question survey)

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