Arkansas Mother Jailed for Alcohol-Fueled Prom Bash

social-host-law-arkansasMaybe she thought she was doing the right thing. Or maybe she wasn’t thinking. But when an Arkansas mother threw a post-prom party and served alcohol to more than 30 teens, she was breaking what is called a Social Host Law.

According to news reports the mother, 48-year-old Marcie Duncan told police that the party was contained on her property.  However, when they came to the scene the police had to stop three cars from leaving. Since the majority of partygoers were intoxicated, the drivers would presumably have been under the influence as well.

What’s distressing here, apart from the lack of common sense, was the impression that Duncan was under that because the underage drinking happened on her property that everything was under control.

The Arkansas Code states:

A person who exercises control over private property shall not knowingly allow a person under twenty-one (21) years of age who is not a family member of the person to consume alcohol on the private property.

A person who “exercises control over private property” is called a “social host.” Most states have some kind of social host law to hold adults responsible when they condone or enable underage drinking on their property.

Apart from health risk and the likelihood of forming bad drinking habits, underage drinking is also a serious problem on the roads. For that reason, in all 50 US states

  • It is illegal for people under 21 to buy alcohol
  • The permissible alcohol level for drivers under 21 is zero

You only need to look at the statistics to see the reason behind these laws. According to NHTSA, “Teens are at far greater risk of death in an alcohol-related crash than the overall population.”

USDOT notes in a report that the alcohol-related crash risk for those who begin drinking at age 14 is four times higher than for those who begin at 21.

Social host laws have a real reason for existing, then. It’s up to parents to know about them, to obey them, and also to understand why they help save young lives.