4th of July is approaching and you’re no doubt already planning your own party and/or being invited to get-togethers with friends. Before you get too carried away with planning your BBQs and events, however, you should keep the Social Host Ordinance in mind.
Wait, the What?
The Social Host Ordinance (also known as The Ordinance on Unruly Gatherings) is a law that holds individuals responsible for organizing and hosting an unruly event. In other words, if your party gets out of hand, you’re criminally responsible for it.
What Constitutes a Disorderly Gathering?
That’s a fair question, after all one person’s disorderly gathering might be another person’s book club. Here are the telltale signs of a party that will land you in trouble:
- Over-packed gatherings filling out onto the streets.
- Under-age drinking.
- Open alcohol container/consumption in public.
- Noise pollution that affects neighbors.
- Interfering with a police officer.
- Drunk and disorderly conduct.
In other words, if it’s likely to result in a call to the police, it’s considered a disorderly gathering.
What about Fireworks?
Legal Fireworks are permitted to be used between June 23-July 6 and December 31-Jan 1. Your 4th of July party should be fine having them, but you won’t be allowed to use them the rest of the year.
What Can I Do to Avoid Getting in Trouble?
Below are some suggestions from the City of Eugene to keep your party safe and acceptable:
Keep a Guest List
Though it’s always tempting to adopt a “come one come all” attitude about your party, this typically ends with a party at max capacity pouring out onto the streets. By knowing ahead of time how many people you’re inviting you’ll limit the party’s capacity to escalate beyond reasonable levels.
Inform Your Neighbors
Let your neighbors know the date and time of your party beforehand. While you’re at it, give them your phone number and contact information should any concerns arise. This step will go along way to avoiding the police being called on your event (and also makes you a better neighbor).
Keep your party legal! If there’s going to be drinking make sure all guests are of the legal drinking age.
Monitor Noise Levels
Keep an eye (an ear?) on the noise levels of your party. Don’t blast your music to the point where people have to yell to one another and keep the hollering to a minimum.
Clean Up After Yourself
Your neighbors are less likely to have any issues with your (or involve the police) if your party is organized and clean. Pick up after yourself when the event’s over.
Prevent Drunk Driving
Regardless of the Social Host Ordinance, this should be a rule for every party you host or are a part of. Do not allow your friends or you yourself drink and drive, or breaking the law will be the least of your concerns.
Be Polite to the Police
Look we get it, nobody wants the police showing up at their door, but it’s important to remember that they are doing their job. Be courteous and helpful should the authorities come with concerns about your party.
Call The Police if Needed
Call the police to your own party? When it’s getting out of hand or becoming dangerous, absolutely. If things reach the point where you yourself can’t control it, give the authorities a call.
That’s a good starting point on the Social Host Ordinance and should be enough to help you plan your upcoming summer parties. If you want to know more, you can read about the ordinance at Party Safe, Party Responsibly. Have fun!