Local alcohol distributing businesses are warning customers, “Oklahomans who host, stand to lose the most.” Establishments are placing stickers on their windows and on their carry-out bags, and some are even wearing pins on their clothing, to let patrons know that it is illegal to permit people under 21 years of age to drink alcohol on their property.
“I think we’ve had a really good response,” said Regional Prevention Coordinator Brooke McCuiston of the Wichita Mountain Prevention Network. “People are wanting to do their part to reduce underage drinking, and since they are the source where a lot of people are purchasing alcohol, they are wanting to make sure that they are keeping kids safe too.”
The Jackson County Substance Awareness Committee has engaged local businesses asking them to inform customers of the liability if found violating the Social Host law. Both adults and minors are held accountable under the Social Host law for supplying a location for underage drinking to take place, and can be fined up to $500 on the first offense. Persons can be charged for a felony, punishable up to five years in prison and up to $2,500 fine if someone is injured or killed while hosting, and repeat offenders are subject to a felony conviction with up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
The law was established to reduce negative consequences that can result from underage drinking. The Committee provides that heavy alcohol consumption can cause unintentional injury or even death associated with driving, falls, poisoning, violence, suicide, sexual assault, or risky sexual behavior. Chronic use can result in poor academic performance, fractured relationships, and addiction. Additionally, the Committee reports, youth who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and are two more likely to become abusers of alcohol than those who begin drinking at age 21.
Look for window and brown bag stickers at participating businesses supporting Social Host awareness in Altus at the following locations: Jimbo’s, KC 2 Distributors, Main Express Mart, Mr. Bills Gas & Food, Gilreath Liquor, S&P Total, The Tunnel, and Altus Package Store.
For more information contact Brooke McCuiston of the Wichita Mountain Prevention Network at (580) 355-5246.