New legislation would hold parents responsible for opioid overdoses

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District Attorney Madeline Singas announces her support for the expansion of the Social Host Law at the Legislative Building on Tuesday (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, acting Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and several members of the county Legislature gathered at the Legislative Building Tuesday to announce a proposed expansion of the social host law to combat opioids.

“We’re here to make a difference and make sure we have every tool available in our toolbox to battle this problem, to battle this epidemic and do everything we can,” said Legislator Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury). “Because it’s not going away quickly.”

The original social host law was passed in 2007 and prohibited anyone over the age of 18 who owns or rents a private property from knowingly allowing the consumption of alcohol on the premises by individuals under the age of 21. The amendment would expand the law to cover the consumption of opioids and other drugs, such as marijuana.

“[Parents] can’t turn a blind eye,” said Singas. “If their kids are downstairs having a party, they should go down and see what’s going on. There is no excuse that ‘I wasn’t aware of it.’ Marijuana smells and the kids’ behavior can be used as evidence.”

The crime is considered an unclassified misdemeanor and a first offense will net a fine of $250. A second offense carries a fine of $500 and a third offense will bring either a $1,000 fine or up to a year in prison.

Although other drugs are named under the proposed amendment, much of the focus was on opioids during Tuesday morning’s press conference.

“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by the opioid crisis in Nassau County,” Singas said.

Ryder spoke next to announce that the legislation had the Police Department’s support.

“We cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem,” he said. “That being said, we still average over 1,400 arrests between opiates and heroin every year. The changes in the law will help us enforce and hold people accountable.”

Ryder claimed that unsupervised teenagers were overdosing on opioid pills and using Narcan to revive each other at parties.

“We’re going to be very supportive of this change because it’s about time we start holding adults responsible for what is going on in their homes,” he said.

The Legislature will consider the legislation at its next full meeting on Monday, Feb. 26.

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