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Legal Consequences

Social Host Accountability Ordinances

States, cities and towns across the country and in Colorado, including Craig, Crested Butte, Gunnison, Fort Collins and Steamboat Springs, have adopted some form of a “Social Host” Ordinance. Social Host Ordinances fine the host of a party or gathering when there are “two or more minors at a place, residence or other private property,” and “alcoholic beverages, marijuana or other controlled substances are possessed or consumed by one or more of the minors.” 


Social Host Ordinances essentially codify the primary commitment of our Be the Influence program — not to host parties or gatherings for teens with alcohol, marijuana or other drugs —

and make such actions illegal.



A violation of the Social Host Ordinance, depending on what jurisdiction it occurs in, could be cited as either a “Criminal” violation, or a “Civil” violation. In some areas, the Officer has the option of citing a Social Host Ordinance violation as either a criminal or a civil violation.

The nature of a criminal violation vs. a civil violation has to do with the punishment imposed. If the Social Host Ordinance violation is cited criminally, 

it can be a criminal misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine, which may appear on a criminal record. However, if cited as a civil violation, it is considered an “administrative matter” (an ordinance violation) which is punishable by a fine only and will not go on a criminal record. If a notice of violation is issued as a civil violation,

most jurisdictions have a sliding scale for the fine amount based on the number of violations occurring, usually within a year period of time.

As of now, Denver has no social host

ordinance on the books. A toolkit to bring these laws to your community in Colorado can be found HEREIf you are interested in working on an initiative to bring these laws to Denver, please contact


  • Ft. Collins. For more information on Ft. Collins’ Social Host Ordinance, go HERE

  • Steamboat Springs. For information on Steamboat Springs’ ordinance, go HERE.

  • Gunnison. For information on Gunnison’s ordinance, go HERE

  • Craig. For information on Craig’s ordinance,
    go HERE.

Additional Legal Consequences to Adults

Adults can be charged with "providing" alcohol, marijuana or other drugs to a minor (under the age of 21) which is a misdemeanor punishable by between 6-18 months in jail, a maximum fine of $5,000 and a six month drivers license suspension.

In addition, adults can be charged with "contributing to the delinquency of a minor" which means knowingly providing alcohol, marijuana or other drugs to a child (under the age of 18) and is a felony involving jail time of between 2-6 years and fines up to $500,000.

Legal Consequences to Teens

Teens can also suffer legal consequences for 

underage purchase of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs, possession (in a public place), including of marijuana paraphernalia, internal possession (which requires evidence of the substance in a minor's body, as determined by blood, breath or urine test), consumption, or public intoxication under “minor in possession”, "minor in consumption", “open container” and other laws.


These consequences can be in the form of infractions with fines of up to $250 and $500 (for the first two convictions) or misdemeanors with jail time for third and subsequent convictions. Attendance at a substance abuse educational program and community service can be required. Additionally, drivers licenses will be revoked, suspended or denied. Misdemeanors potentially have to be disclosed in college applications.
Additionally, teens under the age of 21 cannot drive with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or higher. Consequences include license suspension, fines and community service. If the BAC is above .05% the juvenile receives typical adult consequences which can include jail time of between 5 days to one year in addition to license suspension and fines. For marijuana, the threshold level is five or more nanogram of THC per milliliter of blood.

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