The Columbus Dispatch reports that a father and son from
Dublin have been charged over a teen’s fatal drunk driving crash. The city of Dublin has something called a “social host ordinance” which supersedes Ohio state laws concerning providing alcohol to minors. Violation of the social host ordinance is a first-degree misdemeanor, and those convicted under this ordinance can face up to 180 days in jail.
The Dublin father and son were charged after an 18-year-old got in his vehicle and left their home, only to crash into a tree. Thee teen was killed in the crash and an investigation revealed that not only was he speeding just before impact, but his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit- approximately .20 percent.
The death of this teen is made even more tragic in light of the fact that he was just weeks away from starting as a student at Ohio State University. The night of the crash, which occurred this past summer, Dublin police questioned the father. He claimed that he had no knowledge that his son and some of his underage friends had been drinking in the basement.
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Dublin’s city social hosting ordinance does not require a host and/or homeowner to give direct permission for minors to drink. They don’t even have to witness the drinking to be charged. The major difference the city ordinance has with Ohio state law comes down to “knowingly” versus “negligently.”
Dublin Police Chief Heinz Von Eckartsberg referred to this type of case as “turning a blind eye” saying that it “was not acceptable.” In this case and in others like it, individuals can be charged if they should have known underage drinking was going on, regardless of whether or not they provided the alcohol or even witnessed it.
Statistically, about half of those who have been charged with permitting minors to possess alcohol since 1998 have had their charges dismissed- many claim ignorance. Some advocates are pushing for Ohio to adopt a statewide social hosting law that more closely resembles Dublin’s.