In response to an increase in alcohol and drug abuse by minors, apparently sometimes condoned by parents, the Truckee Town Council has adopted an ordinance in which adults who facilitate or do nothing to prevent such behavior will be subject to citation.
Adopted in May, the Social Host Liability Ordinance went into effect Thursday.
The ordinance prohibits any person from hosting or allowing a party/gathering on his or her public or private property at which youths 20 or younger are consuming or using alcohol, marijuana or controlled substances.
A violation of the ordinance can occur even if the person responsible for the party or gathering did not intend for minors to drink alcohol or use drugs, but did nothing to stop or try to prevent it.
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The Truckee Police Department determined such action was needed after a 2014 local school district survey found alcohol and marijuana use to be 8 percent to 13 percent higher than the state average.
At the same time, 70 percent of minors investigated for driving under the influence by Nevada County police departments were within Truckee town limits, said police Detective Sara Rodriguez.
“We found a shift in the type of party call we were responding to where minor attendees were present,” Rodriguez said. “We began to observe that adults were often in the residence at the same time the minors were using alcohol and/or drugs and were passively allowing the behavior to continue.”
Concerned officers learned a Truckee-Tahoe Future Without Drug Dependence survey found that some parents condoned the use of alcohol by juveniles at parties so long as a parent was present.
“With this alarming statistic (the DUI percentage) and the survey information, it became clear there was a need to adopt an ordinance that sought to hold individuals accountable for allowing minors to engage in the potentially dangerous behaviors of consuming alcohol and/or drugs,” Rodriguez said.
Violations of the ordinance are not subject to criminal prosecution or arrest. If a violation occurs, the host will receive an administrative citation and fine as well as information as to how to appeal the citation.
A news release from the department says that anyone seeking assistance from law enforcement to stop or prevent a gathering on his or her property will not be subject to the ordinance’s penalties.
“The intent of this ordinance is not to punish those in need of police assistance, but rather to deal with those who show disregard for the safety of Truckee’s youth,” Capt. Robert Leftwich said in the release.
Anyone wishing to report an event where they believe underage drinking or drug use is occurring should call the department’s dispatch number, 530-550-2320.