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Prevent Underage Drinking this Spring

TULSA, OKLA. – [April 27, 2023] – Prom and graduation season is upon us. Students are celebrating various milestones and before you know it, your teen may be headed out the door to enjoy springtime festivities. Alcohol is often involved in many of these moments of celebration. The Tulsa Health Department’s substance abuse prevention program and the Stop DUI Task Force encourages adults to take steps to prevent underage drinking and to set good examples for their families.

Data from the 2019-2020 Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment indicates 31.55% of 6th grade students, 35.14% of 8th grade students, 31.96% of 10th grade students and 47.14% of 12th grades students in Tulsa County report obtaining alcohol from someone they know 21 and older. 

“The Stop DUI Task Force is working within the community to help lower these statistics and encourage adults not to provide minors with alcohol,” said THD Community Based Prevention Specialist Kandice Lawson. “Not only is it dangerous, it’s also against the law. The minute someone decides to purchase alcohol for an underage person and provide a place for them to consume it, they’ve broken the law.”

Oklahoma’s Social Host law puts a shared responsibility for underage drinking on the person providing the location for the gathering. If youth under age 21 are drinking alcohol at a gathering, the individual who provided the space for them to do so can face fines up to $500 for first-time offenders. If someone is injured or killed because of a Social Host violation, the offender can be charged with a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine up to $2,500. Repeat offenders – three strikes – can result in a felony conviction with up to five years in prison and a fine up to $2,500.

With spring, proms and graduation approaching – and increased emphasis on get-togethers and parties that may include alcoholic beverages – it’s important that Oklahomans familiarize themselves with Oklahoma’s ‘Social Host Law’. Also known as ‘Cody’s Law’, the law was named in memory of Cody Ryan Greenhaw, who died in 2004 at age 16 during a gathering in a friend’s home where the friend’s parents allegedly knew alcohol and drugs were routinely being used by teens while in their home.

“It’s essential that we continue working together,” says Oklahoma County Sheriff Eric Kirby. “As parents, educators, law enforcement officers, legislators, health care providers and community members we can reduce underage drinking rates even further and ultimately save lives.”

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