Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Social Host Ordinance

Santa Barbara County is moving forward with an ordinance designed to "crackdown" and "get tough" on underage drinking and binge drinking. Of course the neo-prohibitionists among us see nothing wrong with giving the police more tools to attack the problem; and, indeed, there is little if any social utility produced by people under 18 getting trashed. However, I can't recall ever hearing a police officer say, "you know, I'm just powerless to stop underage drinking". Having been in the the thick of court cases surrounding this topic for many years, I can tell you that the Fourth Amendment plays a minimal role in deterring overly aggressive conduct of law enforcement agents. In Isla Vista, for example, there are many instances of police entering parties where they were not invited, and making arrests, issuing cites, seizing kegs, dumping out bottles of booze, and sending the invited guests on their way. It is plain that social ordinances are desired because they would allow police officers to enter any dwelling where a party is taking place where they reasonably suspect a minor is present without a warrant.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This ordinance is clearly all about money and not at all about public safety. Under the proposed Social Host Ordinance, if for some reason a person needs emergency medical treatment, the property owner will be fined the cost of the emergency personnel- including their salary and benefits. Obviously Santa Barbara County is trying to dump their operational costs onto whoever they can bill.

In Isla Vista, where students are already fearful of being criminalized for seeking help from authorities, people will be much less likely to call 911 when someone needs help. Is it going to take some poor freshman dying from alcohol poisoning before they realize that this is a bad idea?