New drinking law crashes teen parties

“Cool parents” and sneaky teens throwing parties while mom and dad are away, beware. Underage drinking on the property of a homeowner in San JoseĀ could now yield some steep fines.

San Jose lawmakers voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the measure. This makes it the biggest city in the region to add such a law to its books.

Santa Clara County along with cities likeĀ Morgan Hill, Palo Alto, Saratoga, Santa Clara, Los Altos, and Milpitas already have laws in place that hold homeowners responsible for underage drinking on their property.

In 2010, a deadly car crash involving teen drinkers that killed a Leland High graduate prompted Councilwoman Nancy Pyle to try to get the law passed:

“About a year ago I stood at a median where 20 kids had gathered, huddled on the cement. They were there with candles, flowers, lots of crying, holding each other. We are finally doing what we need to do, trying to keep kids safe.”

The new law would eliminate loopholes in laws already on the books.

The state already prohibits underage drinking under mostly all circumstances. Adults face criminal charges for allowing those under 21 to consume alcohol on their property, and homeowners face fines for parties that cause a disturbance.

The law would subject a homeowner to fines if there is a gathering of four of more persons engaged in underage drinking regardless of whether or not the party is causing a disturbance.

Homeowners are held accountable even if they are not on the property or did not know about the party.

Rental property owners are exempt from this law unless they are present or knew about underage drinking occurring at the party. Renters, however, could be held accountable.