Social Host Ordinance

Don’t Be a Party to Teen Drinking. The Costs Are Too Great, For Teens and For You.

teens ready for prom

En español

Did you know that allowing anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol on your property can result in a substantial fine? That in some cases hosting underage drinking can result in jail time? The Social Host Ordinance is the law, and it has real consequences.

If you’re a parent, learn more about the Social Host Ordinance, and positive steps you can take to prevent underage drinking.

If you’re a community leader or involved in a community organization, learn more about teaching modules available to help spread the word about the Social Host Ordinance, at the bottom of this page.

What is a Social Host Ordinance?

Adults hosting underage drinking face fines and in some cases jail time if they provide alcohol to minors or allow underage house parties on their property where alcohol is being consumed.

If two or more minors (youth under 21) are on your property or a property under your control, in the City of Novato it only takes one to be drinking for the Ordinance to be applied.

Fines vary depending on location. The City of Novato may apply a fine of up to $1000. In unincorporated areas, the Sheriff may fine $750 for a first time offence, rising to $1500 and $2500 for second or third violations of the Ordinance. In some cases, facilitating underage drinking may result in jail time.

When youth under 18 are cited, parents/guardians are jointly responsible.

To learn more, watch the video below, created by Coalition member Sue Hunt-LeMay and her Leadership Novato 2014 team.

What to Do

  • Never provide alcohol to a minor or allow minors to drink on your property or a property/event under your control.
  • Actively supervise all gatherings of youth. Be present and aware
  • Let other parents and adults know you expect the same from them.
  • Call the police at 415-897-4361 if you know of a party that might happen where they plan to serve alcohol to underage youth, or if underage drinking is already taking place. You could save a life. You can report parties without leaving your name and in any language.
  • Always call 911 in the case of an emergency-even if your actions contributed to underage drinking. Police will consider your efforts to address the emergency when issuing a penalty.

Parents and other caring adults can take these steps to prevent underage drinking:

  1. Reinforce messages  about the risk involved with using alcohol –– including the risks of getting in a car crash or being a crime victim. Establish the expectation that they are not to drink until they are 21.
  2. Make sure that any alcohol in your home is locked up or out of reach to prevent youth from accessing it.
  3. Know who your child is with, what he/she is doing, and when they will be home. Tell your son or daughter to call you anytime for a ride home if they are uncomfortable in the situation they are in, but that this does not give them permission to drink.
  4. Be a good role model with your own alcohol use.
  5. Talk with your children’s friends’ parents and tell them about your family policy on no alcohol before 21.

Join other parents in signing the Novato Community Pledge

Click here to learn more about the City of Novato and Marin County Social Host Ordinance

Calling all Community Presenters!

Community Organizations/Leaders: Do you already conduct community outreach and/or education? Would your organization, group, or audience(s) benefit from information on the Social Host Ordinance (SHO) and its enforcement in Novato? Click here for information on how to insert our adaptable teaching modules into your existing presentations. There are three variations of our course, ranging from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Materials, handouts, and learning objectives are included for ease of adaptation and implementation. To download the coalition’s SHO Handout click here.