Hosts Ronald and Cathy Swiggett apparently took away car keys to keep partygoers safe on New Year's Eve, but that won't help their cases in court.

Hosts Ronald and Cathy Swiggett apparently took away car keys to keep partygoers safe on New Year's Eve, but that won't help their cases in court.

That's because many of the 100 guests at the couple's home that night were younger than 21 and clearly intoxicated when deputy sheriffs broke up the party along Dale Ford Road just outside Delaware, Delaware County Sheriff Walter L. Davis III said. "To provide alcohol to minors is illegal," he said. "Just because you're doing it in the privacy of your home doesn't make it legal."

Davis wants to share that message with parents who are unaware of Ohio's "social host" law, which prohibits adults from serving alcohol to anyone younger than 21.

The Swiggetts are each charged with misdemeanor counts of contributing to the unruliness of juveniles and providing alcohol to minors. If convicted, each could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The couple's 16-year-old son was home during the party but was not charged, Davis said. Forty-eight others who attended - 22 of them younger than 18 - face charges of underage drinking. Mrs. Swiggett would not comment when reached by phone last month.

Often, parents who allow teens to drink under their supervision try to rationalize that decision by saying they want to keep their kids safe, said Patricia Harmon, executive director of the Columbus-based Drug-Free Action Alliance. That mindset, she said, is "ludicrous."

Confiscating car keys so that teens can't drink and drive isn't enough, Harmon said. "I think it's becoming more and more of an excuse, because I think more and more people are aware of what the law is."

Surveys of Ohio parents and their 13- to 18-year-old children in 2006 and 2007 showed that approximately 30 percent of parents and teens knew of parents who hosted parties where alcohol was available or served to teens, the Drug-Free Action Alliance said.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reported in 2006 that one-third of teenagers had attended parties where parents were present and teens were drinking or using illegal drugs.

The Drug-Free Action Alliance has raised public awareness of the problem through its "Parents Who Host Lose the Most" campaign, which began in 2000 in Ohio and has been copied in all 49 other states. The goal is to educate parents about the health and safety risks of serving alcohol at teen parties.

The message is pushed heavily during prom and graduation-party season.