Peggy Kiefer

Grove Sun

You host, you’re toast is one of the slogans GroveCan is using to educate and remind parents of the social host ordinance Grove adopted to prevent parents from hosting parties where alcohol is provided to persons under 21 years of age.

“The primary reasons for the Social Host Law is that most adults think teens drinking alcohol is relatively harmless. What they don’t know is that the human brain does not finish wiring (developing) until somewhere around 21 to 25 years of age. Alcohol consumed during the teen years can have a devastating impact on the teen’s brain development,” stated Chuck Pearce B.S. CPS, Drug Prevention Specialist.

The two parts of the brain are most impacted during the teen years. The Prefrontal Cortex that controls decision-making, planning, judgment and impulse control. For example if a teen starts drinking heavily around the age fifteen, alcohol can “stop” or “hinder” the developmental process of the Prefrontal Cortex. In essence they will make decisions, judgment, planning etc. like a fifteen year old for the rest of their lives. The second part of the brain impacted is the hippocampus, which controls memory.

“Secondly,” Pearce said, “if a teen begins drinking before age fifteen, they are nine times more likely to become alcohol dependant and/or an alcoholic.”

“Hollywood has taught our teens to drink as much as they can as fast as they can to get as drunk as they can to have fun. What Hollywood does not show is the dark side of alcohol, which is alcohol poisoning. With Alcohol Poisoning the brain can tell the lungs to stop breathing, the heart to stop pumping or the throat to reject its gas reflex (causing you to choke and die on your own vomit).

Pearce added “most teens don’t know how to detect alcohol poisoning. If a person is so drunk they pass out and they can not be awaken call 911. If their heart drops to an extreme pulse rate dial 911. If their breathing becomes very shallow call 911. Many parents have made the mistake of just letting them sleep if off and found their teen dead the next morning.”

Prom is this weekend in Grove, which means graduation and summer are just around the corner. Grove Police Chief Mark Morris would like to remind parents that it is against the law to host underage drinking parties or allow underage drinking in your home.

In an effort to discourage parents from hosting parties that traditionally come with prom and graduation, the City of Grove adopted Ordinance No. 605 which begins as follows:

An ordinance amending part 10, offenses and crimes, of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Grove, Oklahoma, more particularly, Chapter 4, offenses against the health, welfare and morals, Section10-420, permitting or allowing gatherings where minors are consuming alcoholic beverages.

To read the social host ordinance in it’s entirety on-line go to http://www.sterlingcodifiers.com/codebook/index.php?book_id=579 under Ordinances Pending Codification.

“It’s an attempt to discourage adults from hosting parties where minors are consuming alcohol. And it holds those adults accountable for those kinds of activities. So as it is getting close to Prom and Graduation you are going to obviously have more of that,” said Grove Police Chief Mark Morris

“In the ordinance it makes the adults physically responsible for checking if a person is of legal age or not. It also says that adult can be charged not only if they knew that a person was under the age of 21, but also if they should have had reasonable that they should of know that the person was under the age of 21. It makes the adult, the person that is hosting that event responsible,” said Morris

Morris explained another part of this ordinance is that if there is a party, that falls within the scope of this ordinance, there is an article in the ordinance called response costs.

“Those people charge in violation of this ordinance then can be held responsible for the salaries & benefits of law enforcement, any emergency personnel, while they are responding to that event,” he said.

Morris estimates the costs of such an event could run into the thousands or more depending on the situation, number of personnel needed, the equipment used and then if there’s an injury caused, it could become very expensive.

“The potential liability risk of someone that left a party that has consumed alcohol on the property is tremendous,” said Morris.