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‘Social Host’ Law Approved By Oswego Council

Tyler Ahart speaks in support of the Social Host law on Monday night.
Tyler Ahart speaks in support of the Social Host law on Monday night.

OSWEGO – The Common Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve the city’s new “Social Host” law.

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Tyler Ahart speaks in support of the Social Host law on Monday night.

The new law is a version of legislation which has been enacted by various other municipalities in the state, explained Council Vice President Kevin Hill who brought the proposal to committee last month.

Oswego’s new law is slightly different from current New York State Legislation, Hill said. The state law only governs the actual giving or selling of alcohol to a person less than 21 years of age. Oswego’s Social Host law puts the responsibility on the host where such illegal acts may be occurring.

It makes it unlawful for any person older than the age of 18 who owns, rents, or otherwise controls a private residence, to knowingly allow the consumption of alcohol, alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs by any minor (younger than the age of 21) on such premises or to fail to take reasonable corrective action upon learning of the consumption of alcohol, alcoholic beverages or use of illegal drugs by any minor on such premises.

There has been a shift from large crowds in downtown bars, to more informal gatherings and house parties that generate complaints of disruption and disorder in our neighborhoods, Hill said at the committee meeting.

“We have an obligation to protect the quality of life of our residents and it’s time we take action by giving local law enforcement an additional tool to do just that,” Hill added.

Tyler Ahart of the Oswego County Prevention Coalition spoke in favor of the law at Monday’s public hearing prior to the regular meeting. The coalition’s mission is to reduce substance abuse on the county.

“It is my belief this law will do just that,” he told the councilors.

He shared data from a recent youth development survey. It detailed youth’s use of things like prescription drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana.

Hill said this is part of city’s on-going efforts to improve the quality of life for all residents.

He praised the relationship between the city police and the University Police at SUNY Oswego. Hill said he is proud of the local law and thanked those who helped turn the proposal into law

Fines for violations (an unclassified misdemeanor) shall be $250 for the first offense. It jumps to $500 for a second offense. Subsequent offenses: anyone who violates the law more than twice within two years of the second offense will face a $1,000 fine, a year in jail or both.

The local law will take effect upon filing with the Secretary of State.