Underage & Binge Drinking: Social Host Ordinances

Social Host Ordinances (SHOs) in Ventura County are local laws with civil penalties (fines) providing law enforcement a tool for addressing underage drinking in home party settings, and to deter those who may host a loud or unruly party.

The costs and consequences of heavy drinking by teenagers continue to mount, and people recognize that underage drinking is a costly problem that affects virtually everyone. Many communities are considering civil host liability – or “Social Host Ordinances” – to address the problem of underage drinking generally, and loud and unruly home parties specifically.

Ventura County has been at the forefront of local policy initiatives to address these problems, with Social Host laws in effect county wide, and in all ten incorporated cities.

Research & Evaluation

“It is important to note that the success of the Social Host Ordinance is connected to the fact that it is embraced by every jurisdiction in Ventura County.”

The Social Host Ordinance Impact Evaluation: Phase II Findings - 2013 Issue Briefing examines local impacts of implementation and enforcement efforts since Social Host policies were adopted in 2006 and 2007. Findings indicate that positive strides are being made:

Evidence of Impact

  • Past 30-day alcohol use among high school students is trending downward
  • Young people are aware of SHO
  • Youth support the use of SHO
  • Law enforcement perceives SHO as useful tool
  • Hundreds of SHO citations issued
  • Very few hosts are cited more than once
  • Citation fees are being collected

Need for Continued Prevention & Evaluation

  • Reports of harmful behaviors occurring at SHO parties
  • Over one-third reported that “people were out of control”
  • 2 out of 5 indicated that someone had passed out
  • Only 1 in 3 reported that the party was safe for all participants
  • Continued need for evaluation and tracking of enforcement efforts
  • Continued need for media campaigns and educational outreach to parents and students
Read about Key Findings and our prevention campaign efforts at
Social Host Ordinance Impact Evaluation: Phase II Findings - 2013 Issue Briefing

Sustaining the Effort

Social Host laws have been enforced hundreds of times across the county. We want meaningful consequences to be known as “the rule, not the exception.”

Read more about our efforts at Social Host Workshop: Underage Drinking and Home Parties. Implementing Social Host Ordinances in Ventura County.

Getting the Word Out - Campaigns

Along with implementation of the Social Host Ordinances came strategies for public awareness and educational outreach. Our public awareness campaigns include print-ads, billboards, radio campaigns, online ads, brochures, flyers, posters, and door-hangers. Read more about the campaigns and see our materials.

Social Host Ordinance Billboard Campaign

This campaign launched in May 2011 on Highway 33 in the city of Ojai, CA. It was targeted to youth, parents and the community to educate the public about the Social Host Ordinances throughout Ventura County. See Social Host Ordinance Billboard Campaign.

Your Home Your Fine Campaign

Is there underage drinking in YOUR house? This ongoing campaign raises awareness that there are social host laws in Ventura County that hold adults responsible for parties where alcohol is served to underage people. See Your Home. Your Fine.

It's Real Campaign

Where to report a loud party with underage drinking. See the It's Real campaign materials.

Social Host Laws: Education Campaign

The Social Host Laws Campaign is targeted to youth, parents and the community to educate the public about the Social Host Ordinances throughout Ventura County. These ads include phone numbers to report a loud party involving underage drinking. Included are samples of our signage and posters used throughout the County to educate the public on how to take action. See the Social Host Laws Education Campaign.

Social Host Laws: Radio Campaign

The Social Host Laws Radio Campaign was launched in spring of 2011 to highlight the issues related to underage and binge drinking, and to home parties in particular. Listen to our campaigns in both English and Spanish. Hear the Social Host Laws Radio Campaign.

To Learn More

For more resources about Social Host Ordinance implementation and strategies, go to:

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