GENESEO – The Village Board of Trustees is considering adding language to the controversial ‘Social Host Law’ to clarify the legal protections for someone calling 911 in the event of an alcohol or drug-related emergency at a party where underage people are illegally being served alcohol or drugs.
Trustee Margaret Duff said at Monday night’s Village Board meeting that language should be added to the law to clarify that anyone calling 911 in an emergency at such a party would be protected from Social Host fines by the Good Samaritan Act.
“I’d like to suggest we put some language in the social host law that spells it out that if you call when someone is in danger or someone shows up and they’re underage, you’re not going to be in trouble for not sending someone out on the road or walking down the street,” said Duff.
Mayor Richard Hatheway said that the law would never come into play in an emergency.
“Our intent all along was to make the Good Samaritan Act supersede everything,” said Mayor Richard Hatheway. “In a sense it’s implied. We would never invoke the Social Host Law in an emergency situation.”
Duff said that many people criticize the law for complicating a person’s decision to call 911 in an emergency.
She said that the Board should consult Geneseo Police Chief Eric Osganian for the phrasing of the new language.
The law establishes a fine for a person found to be in control of a property where alcohol or illegal drugs are being served to an underage person at a ‘gathering’ of more than two people.
Social Host, Chapter 88 of Village of Geneseo Code, available online here, was passed by the Village of Geneseo Board of Trustees after a heated public hearing between the Village Board and students on April 20, 2015.
Penalties under the Social Host Law are: “any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a violation and shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to a fine of $250, or imprisonment for a term not to exceed 15 days, or a combination of such fine and imprisonment as shall be ordered by the court. Each and every subsequent occurrence shall constitute a violation punishable by a fine of $500 or imprisonment of 15 days. In addition, for each offense, successful completion of a court-approved alcohol and drug awareness program is required.”