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.