Suffolk County's Social Host Law
The Social Host Law holds parents and adults over 18, responsible for allowing anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol or engage in the improper use of legal or illegal drugs at a party or gathering in their home, apartment, an RV, a hotel or in the yard.
The Social Host Law uses broad language, but it also gives parents and other responsible adults some leeway to take prompt action to stop the drinking in their home or other premises. For example, while it is illegal to knowingly allow the consumption of alcohol by a minor in your presence, you can and should take appropriate and “reasonable corrective action” to stop an underage person from drinking. Reasonable corrective action includes: Making a prompt demand that they stop drinking the alcoholic beverage or leave the premises. If they refuse to leave or stop drinking alcohol, you are expected to report the matter to local law enforcement; or to any other person with a greater degree of authority over the minor, such as their parent or guardian.
Who can be charged?
Anyone who is over the age of 18 and owns, rents, or otherwise controls a private residence; or a permanent or temporary residence, including a home, apartment, condominium, cooperative unit, trailer home, recreational vehicle, mobile home, overnight accommodations at a hotel, motel, campsite or short‐term rental property; or other dwelling unit of any kind, including yards and open areas adjacent to these locations.
Knowingly allows the consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages by any minor on such premises, or fails to take reasonable corrective action upon learning of the consumption of alcohol or alcoholic beverages by any minor on such premises.
What is “Reasonable Corrective Action?”
Reasonable corrective actions include making a prompt demand that the minor(s) stop drinking the alcoholic beverage or leave the premises. If the minor refuses to comply with the request, the adult must promptly report the underage drinking to local law enforcement or any other person with a greater degree of authority over the minor (e.g. the minors’ parents or guardians, etc.) The failure to act promptly to stop minors from drinking on your premises can result in fines or even criminal charges.
What are the penalties?
1st Offense: Fine not to exceed $500
2nd and subsequent offenses:Misdemeanor—fine up to $1,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed one year.
Other laws regarding underage persons:
The New York State Penal Law, the Alcohol Beverage Control Law, and other state and local regulations make it illegal to engage in unlawful conduct with persons under the age of 21. These laws prohibit the sale of alcohol to persons under the age of 21, the purchase of alcohol for someone who is under the age of 21, and address conduct that endangers the welfare of persons of a protected age. Penalties are severe, and in many cases can result in significant fines and/or imprisonment