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OC Parents May Face Fines, Jail For Serving Alcohol To Minors At Home

SANTA ANA ( — The Orange County Board of Supervisors was expected to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would fine and potentially jail parents who knowingly allow alcohol to be served to kids at their homes.

The proposed "Social Host Liability" ordinance would hold liable any person who owns, rents, or leases any private property that hosts an underage gathering, which is defined as the gathering of three or more persons under the age of 21.

A first violation would result in an administrative citation and fine of $750, while a second or subsequent violation would constitute a misdemeanor, and upon conviction, would be punishable by a fine of as much as $1,000 or by imprisonment in the county jail of not more than six months, or by both.

The proposed ordinance, however, would not make it a violation to furnish alcohol to a person less than 21 years of age if one is the parent or legal guardian of that person. "Legally-recognized" religious practices where wine is served to people under 21 years old would also be exempt.

Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that while most of the community supports the issue of keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors, opponents fear the ordinance could reach too far into the home.

OC Supervisor Todd Spitzer

"I am a conservative Republican and I do believe in the right of privacy, and people should be protected in their homes," Spitzer said. "The problem is we have parents who are furnishing alcohol under the theory that if their kids are gonna drink, they'd rather have 'em do it at home.

"The problem is these kids are sneaking out, they're going out, and they're hurting people," he added.

Spitzer cited a similar initiatives in Mission Viejo, Laguna Beach, and Irvine that he said have been used sparingly since their implementation.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens last month voiced her support(PDF) for the ordinance.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt the ordinance upon a second reading on Nov. 19.

RELATED: OC Parents Wary Of Proposed Underage Drinking Fines

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