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Teen Party Ordinances

Description of Strategy

Teen parties are one of the highest risk settings for underage drinking. Young people report their heaviest drinking at large parties with peers, most of whom are underage, in private homes. Teen parties frequently lack adult supervision and can lead to alcohol poisoning, driving while intoxicated, sexual assaults, other violence, vandalism, and property damage. Despite the seriousness of the potential problems, communities tend to be tolerant of these parties and this tolerance is compounded by legal obstacles to law enforcement. Many states do not prohibit youth possession in private residences. Further, parents may supply alcohol to their minor children. In some states, police who detect a teen party may not have legal grounds to enter the premises, be unable to confiscate the alcohol, trace its original purchase, or hold the adult householder responsible for allowing the party on the premises (Prevention Resource Center, 2004).

Teen party ordinances function similarly to social host liability laws (pg. 127). The ordinances target the location where underage drinking occurs. The ordinances hold the individual responsible for underage drinking events on noncommercial property they own, lease, or otherwise control. The purpose of a teen party ordinance is to discourage under-age drinking parties by creating a legal means to sanction the host and party attendees (Higher Education Center, 2011).

Also known as...

Party patrols, noisy assembly ordinance

Discussion of Effectiveness


Evidence suggests varied results for the effectiveness of teen party ordinances as a prevention strategy. Enforced teen party ordinances were found to be effective when part of a multi-component strategy to reduce incidence and likelihood of youth drinking, as well as off-premise underage alcohol sales (Saltz, Paschall, McGaffigan, & Nygaard, 2010; Saltz, Welker, Paschall, Feeney, & Fabiano, 2009). However, the evidence did not support the effectiveness of teen party ordinances for reducing binge drinking or perceived availability outcomes (Flewelling et al., 2012).

Prescription & Other Drugs

No evidence was located on teen party ordinances related to other drug outcomes.