Archive for Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hosting law aims to curtail underage drinking

June 20, 2009


For those thinking of throwing a backyard kegger this summer and inviting underage drinkers to it — you might want to reconsider.

Lawrence just became the city with the strongest social hosting ordinance in the state.

Concerned that laws against those serving alcohol to minors at parties weren’t being fully enforced, a local alcohol prevention group lobbied the Lawrence City Commission to strengthen its social hosting law.

“Because Lawrence has such a high number of underage age drinkers here, we need to take the steps to make sure this is a really good enforceable law,” said Jen Brinkerhoff of the New Tradition Coalition, the group that pushed for the changes.

State law calls for a minimum $1,000 fine and possibly one year in jail for anyone allowing a minor to drink alcohol on their property.

Earlier this year, the Legislature changed the wording so hosts would be responsible even if they didn’t intentionally supply alcohol to underage drinkers, but acted recklessly.

The city’s law goes a step further, more specifically defining what that reckless behavior would entail, including not taking steps to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors.

Under the new ordinance, which was approved by the commission on Tuesday, individuals who are hosting parties need to control the access of alcohol by minors and verify suspected minor’s ages with photo IDs.

The law also establishes a presumption that everyone attending the party is invited. So, it would be up to the host to prove that minors were trespassing.

In the past, City Prosecutor Jerry Little said the court had trouble providing physical proof that a person hosting the party intentionally invited a minor to it. And without that proof, charges didn’t stand up in front of a judge.

This spring, a review of court files by the Lawrence Journal-World showed that since 2005, 24 charges have been filed in the Lawrence Municipal Court for the unlawful hosting of minors. Of those cases, just one defendant pleaded guilty and two others were required to pay the full $1,000 fine.

While the state’s social hosting law is geared toward parents, the majority of cases in Lawrence center around college-age parties in the Oread neighborhood just off the Kansas University campus.

Brinkerhoff, who has worked to strengthen the law for the past few months, said she plans to start working with the Oread Neighborhood Association to spread the message that the city’s laws have toughened up.

She hopes a greater threat of getting stuck with a $1,000 fine will make party hosts think twice before inviting minors.


RoeDapple 8 years, 9 months ago

Okay, so tell me again how if current laws are not being enforced why you think laws on top of other laws will be be enforced. Simply by the threat of larger fines?

You make me to laugh! ha!

Laws that are unpopular with law enforcement require dragging an officer kicking and screaming to witness/enforce. Good luck.

Joe Hyde 8 years, 9 months ago

Most of the "minors" referenced in this story -- and impacted by this ordinance -- are in fact legal adults by means of having attained the age of 18. They are therefore entitled to every adult priviledge common to U.S. citizens...except the legal ability to buy and consume a beer.

What needs to be changed are the recent laws that raised the drinking age nationwide from 18 (where it had been) to 21. By going back to the former "18 is legal" our drinking laws will once again be consistent with every other law that impacts young adults.

By insisting that the 18-to-21 age group conform to all adult laws while simultaneosly treating them as children (by denying them adult recreational priviledges) we encourage a youth culture that harbors feelings of resentment and disrespect of authority.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 9 months ago

When have our young people NOT harbored feelings of resentment and disrespect of authority? I think that gene kicks in around 15 or 16. You may be an adult at 18, but very few of those kids have the maturity to ignore the peer pressure and make GOOD choices.

gsxr600 8 years, 9 months ago

The police hardly issue these citations as it is. They will always give out a warning first, then followed typically by parking tickets and a maybe a noise complaint. From what I've noticed, cops get annoyed when they have to come issue a million citations for a party (parking, noise, etc) and then have to write up pages of reports over it. How many frats and sororitys have you heard busted for under age drinking? You don't. And I can guarantee this underage drinking happens EVERY weekend.

Skeptic 8 years, 9 months ago

This is very good news. The only types of fines we should be raising are those on the laws that aren't being enforced.

The New Tradition in Lawrence is irrational prohibitionism I guess.

fletch 8 years, 9 months ago

Psssh, Lawrence cops won't enforce this unless there is a medical emergency. When we had keggers in the student ghetto, the cop would get my roommates and I together, give us a verbal warning, and tell us he'd be driving by again in 20 minutes. You'd be amazed how fast you can clear people out of your house when given a deadline. Only time we ever got a real ticket was when they put that new noise ordinance in place a few years ago, and the Kansan and LJW photographers were at our party waiting for the cops. Good times.

Oh yeah, and booooo to the nanny state. College students are going to drink. No amount of finger wagging form the old foggies in that legislature or City Commission will change that. Best you can do it make sure they've got access to Saferide and have friends around to keep them safe.

Evan Ridenour 8 years, 9 months ago

I almost want to throw a house party just to challenge this new ordinance, I am pretty darn sure you can't shift the burden of proof to the citizen in a criminal matter.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 9 months ago

Hey Eride, you must be mighty bored to throw a party just for the challenge..... but it's none of my business.... knock yourself out if makes you feel better.

kusp8 8 years, 9 months ago

"New Tradition Coalition" haha, seems like an oxy-moron. Anybody else think this as well?

Grundoon Luna 8 years, 9 months ago

If you are mature enough to give your life to for your country then you are mature enough to drink I M H O.

BrentS 8 years, 9 months ago

The mind-boggling thing about all this is that if it weren't illegal to drink under the age of 21, there wouldn't be nearly as many problems with alcohol consumption by young adults. I've seen it happen with many of my college friends -- once they hit 21 and drinking isn't "against the rules" anymore, it loses its glamor -- and when something goes wrong there's no fear of legal repercussions if one gets help. The simplest and safest thing to do about underage drinking is to lower the drinking age.

Fat chance of that ever happening, though.

igby 8 years, 9 months ago

Since the noise law did not work to suit the ONA, they're now going to send in a minor with their own beer into your block party. The cops or mip enforcement officers will then go in and pick the minor out of the crowd and shut your party down; fine you and your landlord $1,000.00 each.

They're already doing this to gas stations who sell tobacco to minors and also bars who sell liquor to underage drinkers. They have even went as far as providing these narc-minors with false ID's to entrap the merchants with a minor who does look older yet his false ID says he's 21 and he looks 21 but he is only 18 or 19.

If anyone shows up at your party that you don't know kick them out because they could be a narc-minor working for the MIP enforcement.

That's right!

A sting operation. The property owner who rents too these party host will get fined $1,000 for just renting to the party host. He knew they were having parties and did not enforce the law into their lease agreement.

kusp8 8 years, 9 months ago

igby- I'm not sure if the ABC or LPD would be able to send in underage people to parties at a private residence. The reason why they can send in minors to restaurants and gas stations is because you don't need an invitation to enter one of these establishments, and because they are licensed through the state. However, you do need an invitation to enter a residence. So, if the minor is found to be there and employed by the State or City the State or City could probably be sued, and the minor could get a trespassing charge slapped on them.

Unless I'm wrong...if so can somebody correct me?

oneperson 8 years, 9 months ago

A lot of these comments seem oblivious to the fact that several young people have been buried this past spring as a result of underage drinking.

The reason for sticking with the 21 age limit isn't to infantilize 18-20 year olds. It's based on years of research that demonstrate brain development isn't complete until age 25.

Much of the opposition to enforcing underage drinking laws seems to come from folks who are truly out of touch with how underage drinking happens in today's world, folks who remember drinking 3.2 beer in their glory days of high school or college. These folks need to spend a few minutes on youtube watching kids chug bottles of vodka and worse and realize that laws like this one are not trying to spoil anyone's fun, but rather to save lives.

Ben Chapin 8 years, 7 months ago

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Caroline Bennett 8 years, 7 months ago

Wow, Chenbipan. Out of line entirely.

I'm against this idea completely, but your comment is filthy and derogatory.

jimmyjms 8 years, 7 months ago

Jen Brinkerhoff needs to get a hobby. Has this proven to be a big problem?

Truth be told, it doesn't even rank in the top 100 in regard to the myriad problems that Lawrence currently faces, and it's about the last thing that we need our cops to focus on.

Jersey_Girl 8 years, 7 months ago

oneperson - I'm usually pretty good at logic, but you lost me. When many of us were 18-21, 3.2 beer was still legal and that's what we're affectionately remembering, but having made that illegal, we have led 18-21 year-olds of today to drink vodka or worse. Sorry, can't get my mind around that one. Can you please explain that logic to me?

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