Preventing Underage Drinking

Reducing Youth Access to Alcohol

What do we mean when we talk about the “social host” in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, the term “social host” describes an adult (age 18 or older) who allows or fails to take action to prevent underage drinking in location they own, rent occupy and control. The term “social host” is generic and has different meaning in different states and in context, what you read or hear about other states may not apply in Wisconsin.

What do youth need to drink illegally?

Alcohol and a place to drink it. Remove either or both, and you prevent underage drinking. Social host legislation reduces youth access to alcohol by making it illegal to provide a location for underage drinking. Alcohol: It has been illegal to Purchase, Pour or Provide Alcohol to any underage individual except your offspring or spouse for years.

Where do youth get alcohol? Most alcohol consumed illegally by youth is:

  • Legally purchased and pilfered or
  • Legally purchased and provided to youth or
  • Illegally purchased

Wisconsin, like many states, allows parents to provide alcohol to their own offspring under range of different circumstances. Most states allow a parent to serve their child alcohol in their home, fewer states allow a parent to provide alcohol to their child outside their home. Social host laws and ordinances apply to youth other than your underage offspring or spouse.

Where do youth drink?

Wisconsin law enforcement agencies report underage drinking parties on private property, most frequently homes and apartments. In warmer weather, outbuilding, and even docks serve as party sites. Sometimes individuals rent hotel rooms for the express purpose of keeping underage drinking put of their home.

Adults who own or control and occupy property may not allow underage drinking and are expected to take steps to prevent underage drinking on their property.

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