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Lawmaker to Strengthen Social Host Bill

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Senator Debbe Leftwich says she was motivated by a story of a teen death to write the bill. Senator Debbe Leftwich says she was motivated by a story of a teen death to write the bill.
The bill aims to add more penalties to the state's social host law. The bill aims to add more penalties to the state's social host law.

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- One state lawmaker is looking to curb underage drinking and those who provide alcohol to the minors.

She's looking to strengthen Oklahoma's social host laws and is looking to metro city ordinances as an example.

The current state social host laws only holds adults accountable if a minor is injured or dies. This measure would add teeth to the law tacking on more fines and penalties.

"I was just surprised to hear about these parents who are hosting these parties," said Senator Debbe Leftwich (D-District 44).

A few words from a forum years ago moved one mother of two. Senator Debbe Leftwich heard a tragic tale of a mother who lost her child after going to a social host party.

"I heard her story and I just felt compelled to do something," Leftwich said.

And that something turned into an amendment attached to Senate Bill 1146, which aims to add more penalties to the state's social host law.

Senator Leftwich is pushing to add 3.2 beer to the list along with penalties for adults who let minors drink alcohol including fines and jail time.

"Looking at what Edmond was doing I thought there was the strongest language and that's what I modeled my bill after," Leftwich said.

Right now over 52 communities across the Sooner State have some form of social host ordinance; one that's proven to be effective is in Edmond.

"Basically, the whole point was try to save kids from drinking and driving from you and I from danger when somebody is behind the wheel," said Glynda Chu of the Edmond Police Department.

The 2-year-old ordinance has curbed the problem. In 2007, there were 71 citations and last year, 42 for social host violations.

"I think anything you can do to help curb underage drinking is positive and this will just be another step in that direction," Chu said.

The bill now heads to the House.

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