A new tool to combat underage drinking is taking hold in communities around Wisconsin. The so-called “social host” ordinances target parents and other adults who provide alcohol to, or host parties for, underage drinkers. “A recent study that MADD came out with found that 26 percent of teen drinkers get their alcohol from a parent or family member,” says Frank Harris with MADD Wisconsin. “Underage drinking is a serious public health issue.”
The Dane County Village of Oregon is the latest, and the eighteenth municipality in the state, to enact a social hosting ordinance. Harris says part of the reason is to educate parents. “You should talk to your kids about waiting until they’re 21 to drink alcohol, and not facilitating them drinking,” he says. For those who don’t get the message, the Oregon ordinance carries a $2,000 fine for first-time offenders. That’s four times the fine under a similar state law.