State offers reminder about Social Host law

Law: It is illegal to buy, provide or supply alcohol to anyone under 21

Posted 8/19/21

Barrington is no stranger to the Social Host law, and now state officials have launched a public awareness campaign to remind people of the law and the dangers of underage drinking.

Rhode Rules …

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State offers reminder about Social Host law

Law: It is illegal to buy, provide or supply alcohol to anyone under 21

Posted

Barrington is no stranger to the Social Host law, and now state officials have launched a public awareness campaign to remind people of the law and the dangers of underage drinking.

Rhode Rules for Rhode Island, which aims to educate residents about the Social Host law, kicked off on Aug. 5 during a special news conference in North Providence. Barrington Police Chief Michael Correia and BAY Team Executive Director Denise Alves attended the conference.

The Social Host law states that it is illegal to buy, provide or supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. It also states that it is illegal to provide a place for underage drinking.

Steven Eiland, the prevention coordinator for the East Bay Regional Prevention Coalition, said most resident know someone who has been impacted by underage drinking.

“Regardless of where youth are drinking or how much they are drinking, consumption has dangerous effects,” he said. “The best thing parents or young adults can do for the youth in their lives is to follow the Social Host Law.”

Last week, Barrington Police charged a local resident with violating the social host ordinance in town after police were alerted to a large underage drinking party on Rumstick Road.

Statistics from a recent study on youth behavior in Rhode Island show that 59 percent of the young people surveyed said they had obtained alcohol from a friend or relative who is over the age of 21. Of those surveyed, 35 percent reported obtaining alcohol from a parent or guardian.

Consequences of breaking the Social Host law include fines up to $1,000, a prison sentence of six months for first-time offenders and mandatory educational programs approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

The Rhode Rules for Rhode Island campaign was launched by six Rhode Island Prevention Coalitions and funded by the Partnerships for Success Grant. Rhode Island Regional Prevention Coalitions provide substance use prevention strategies, mental health resources, and advocate for policies that support healthy and safe communities. Coalition members are youth, parents, elected officials, healthcare providers, faith leaders, local businesses, law enforcement, educational leaders, youth-serving organizations, and treatment providers. Seven Regional coalitions connect 36 local coalitions across the state.

Womazetta Jones, the secretary of RI Health and Human Services, was pleased with the effort to increase awareness about the Social Host law.

“The effects of alcohol use on the developing adolescent brain and decision-making abilities can lead to lifelong consequences,” Ms. Jones said. “By not purchasing or providing alcohol to underage youth, and not hosting parties with alcohol, we not only protect those under 21, but also protect our communities and families. We hope every Rhode Islander will help us share the message of Rhode Island’s Social Host Law.”

The Social Host law

• The law states it is illegal to permit an underage person to consume alcohol 

• First offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $350 to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail

• Future offenses can lead to harsher penalties, including a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to three years in jail

• Rhode Island is one 40 states that maintains a Social Host law

Underage drinking

• Early exposure to alcohol can have short- and long-term effects on young people, including impacting brain development. (Brains do not fully form and develop until around age 24.)

• Youth who drink alcohol are at a higher risk for future substance misuse struggles and disorders

• Youth who drink alcohol can also experience increased anxiety and depression

• Drinking alcohol underage can lower inhibitions and increase risky behavior

* According to information provided by Rhode Island Regional Prevention Coalition

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