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"We don't want our young children to become addicted to alcohol; addiction to alcohol makes a person crazy," said an elderly female during the Tuesday, September 15, Carlsbad city council meeting. The statement came minutes before the mayor and council unanimously agreed to enact a law that penalizes parents and adult hosts of parties for providing alcohol and other controlled substances to minors.

The "social-host" law gives police officers the authority to charge parents or party hosts with a misdemeanor infraction that could result in a $1000 fine and up to six months of jail time.

"Parents are there in a lot of cases," said Carlsbad Chief of Police Tom Zoll at Tuesday's meeting. "They just don't supervise who's drinking and who isn't. This ordinance will affix some responsibility on the parents, or the adults...whoever's in charge of that location, and make sure these people are over 21 years of age."

Last fall, the North County Prevention Coalition - an agency whose goal is to reduce drug and alcohol use among North County's minors - surveyed 200 Carlsbad High School Key Club students. In that poll, the coalition found that 94 percent of the students have friends that drink alcohol, more than 70 percent admitted to drinking themselves.

"The social-host ordinance is meant to discourage that behavior," said Aaron Byzak, president of North County Prevention Coalition. "Law enforcement agrees that underage drinking is a major problem, and adults are furnishing alcohol to kids in our local cities, and Carlsbad is not an exception."

But Carlsbad is an exception, in that it is one of the few cities that didn't have a social-host law in place. By 2006, all 19 cities in San Diego County, except for Carlsbad, Del Mar, and Chula Vista, had enacted social-host laws.

Carlsbad Police Captain Neil Gallucci says the reason for Carlsbad's delay in imposing a social-host law wasn't due to a lack of concern but instead to see how the law played out in other cities.

"We basically took a position to watch and see how those ordinances would play out because we wanted our ordinance to stand up legally," says Gallucci, referring to a 2004 court ruling that found San Diego's law too general. "We're now at the point where our city attorney and our police chief felt it was the appropriate time for the ordinance."

According to Gallucci, the ordinance will serve as a "tool" for compliance, and Carlsbad officers won't rely on the large fines and arrest as a way to crack down on underage drinking. "Out of 100 party calls we go to, 99 times that person turns down and complies. This is the same sort of thing, but this will actually hold the party giver accountable."

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Comments

PistolPete Sept. 16, 2009 @ 6:11 p.m.

What's funny about this law is that Wisconsin bars allow minors to drink in their establishments as long as their is a guardian or parent present. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that statistics will show that underage DUIs are lower in Wisconsin than the average state that doesn't allow minors to drink at the bar with their parents. Again,California and Carlsbad in particular look like the retarded kid down the block. Yeah. I said it. Again. What are you going to do? Cry to the Reader again? :-D

Another one of California's famous moneystrokes? I think so.

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shizzyfinn Sept. 17, 2009 @ 3:29 p.m.

Funny, I'm in Wisconsin right now, and just read about the minors-allowed-to-drink-with-parents rule in Madison's weekly paper. IMHO it's just one more example of how Wisconsin - long a powerhouse of progressive thinking - is a few steps ahead of most of the rest of the country, especially us conservative clowns in San Diego.

I grew up in San Diego, and like many others, I learned to binge drink with my high school friends. I can't remember ever drinking with someone's parents around. If parents had been around, keeping an eye on us, I'm pretty sure the drinking by us kids would have been much less out-of-control.

Notice how the people in favor of social host laws don't have any data showing how the laws cut down underage drinking? That's because the laws don't cut down underage drinking.

What these dumb-ass laws do is push underage drinking further underground, where it becomes more of a problem, not less. "We don't want our young children to become addicted to alcohol," says the lady at the beginning of this article. Well, if that's the case, don't enact laws that force kids to learn to drink from other kids.

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PistolPete Sept. 17, 2009 @ 4:40 p.m.

BINGO,shizzy. You're dead on. You have to wonder if our government(the police in this case)isn't baiting the average civilian(parents in this case)into supporting some dumb law that we don't need to pad the city's wallet. Just as in the case of my own homestate(Illinois),I hate Wisconsin just as much as I love it. I came out here to Kaliforniastan to get away from small city/small minded thinking and ended up running into the lion's den.

BTW,shizzy,I'd like to read that article if you post a link if possible. Wisconsin,for its sometimes backwards thinking,is pretty fin' progressive. Minors allowed to drink in bars with parents. Wisconsin bars staying open for 24 hours December 31st-January 1st. Madison allowing a vending machine with beer to sit unattended on a city street. Unfortunetely for Wisconsin bars,unless they can somehow convince the legislation that they're absolutely fin' crazy,it'll be a dark day in Wisconsin history on July 5th,2010. That's the day that bars are supposed to go smoke-free. :-( Wisconsin's economy will NEVER rebound if that's allowed to happen.

As for Carlsbad,whatever. It's you're city and not only am I not a minor anymore,I don't and refuse to live in that city.

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