Suffolk Legislature “Turns Off the Tap” at Underage Drinking Parties

Strengthens 'social host' law

(June 21, 2016)  Just in time for high school prom and graduation season, Legislators Tom Cilmi (R-East Islip) and Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) announced the passage of a bill to strengthen the County’s social host law, making it a misdemeanor for an adult (described as anyone 18 years of age or older) to serve alcohol or allow alcohol to be served to minors on a property under his or her control. The law is designed to prevent homeowners from hosting drinking parties for their underage children. Legislators Cilmi and Martinez said, “We speak with one voice as we celebrate the passage of this important amendment which will give our Police Department the ability to more effectively enforce the social host law by changing the first offense from a violation to a misdemeanor. We know that alcohol abuse, while destructive in and of itself, is too often a gateway to other drugs such as marijuana and opioids such as heroin. While we do not expect this legislation to prevent underage drinking, we do expect to send a clear and forceful message that it is illegal for an adult to serve alcohol to someone else’s underage child and that we will prosecute those caught doing so. Hopefully that message will help to change a growing permissive attitude toward underage drinking and ultimately save lives.” Dr. Jeff Reynolds, President and CEO of Family and Children’s Services, said, “Alcohol remains the deadliest drug on the planet and underage drinking has contributed to the mess we’re in today. This common-sense bill strengthens Suffolk’s social host law, proactively protects public health and ultimately, will save lives.” Cilmi and Martinez sponsored the law after consulting with SCPD Commissioner Tim Sini, community leaders, and superintendents from a variety of area school districts. Susan Schnebel, Islip School District Superintendent, said, “As a superintendent, we are always disheartened when we learn about parties being hosted by parents. The health and safety of our students is the utmost priority. Islip Schools, like others, has programs in place to educate our youth on the dangers of alcohol. However, without the cooperation of adults, our efforts are less effective.” Cilmi and Martinez continued, “We know there is no magic bullet when it comes to stopping substance abuse, but if each of us does our part, we can make a difference.”