Underage Alcohol Use - Consent to Enter Home

In an attempt to combat underage alcohol use, Garden City, located in Nassau County, has enacted the "Social Host Law" which creates criminal liability of a homeowner when they allow the consumption of alcohol by minors at the residence. This law expands penalties to those persons who simply permit the use of alcohol at their home, regardless of whether or not the homeowner served the alcohol or was on the premises at the time. If a child hosts a party involving underage drinking or drug use while the parents are away on vacation, the parents can still be criminally prosecuted.

A violation of the Social Host Law is a misdemeanor and is designed to hold parents criminally responsible when their children host parties at the house where drinking takes place. The Garden City Police Department has created a voluntary consent form, where the homeowners provide advanced consent to permit law enforcement into the home, without a warrant, when there is an alcohol-related youth complaint. The individual signing the consent form not only waives his or her constitutional right to deny entry to the home, the form also releases the Garden City Police Department of any liability in connection with police action taken as a result of the voluntary consent, which may include any property damage or injuries that occur on the premises. After the form is signed, the police can enter the home even when the parents or guardians are not present.

A copy of the consent form can be found here.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution provides that all people have the right to be secure in their bodies and homes against unreasonable searches and seizures, and this right may not be violated absent a warrant based upon probable cause. Warrantless searches are permissible only in certain circumstances, which include when items, such as drugs, are in plain sight of the police officerand voluntary consent, which is what the Garden City's consent form seeks in advance. An individual does have the right to refuse consent, however this right is not specified on Garden City's form.

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