Underage drinking is a serious issue and is one that plagues many communities if left unaddressed. Elected officials in St. Joseph recently adopted three alcohol-related laws to deter underage drinking and assist law enforcement with upholding the rules about this issue. Good for them. Their proactive approach is commendable.
The 4-1 vote taken earlier this month put in place a requirement for a permit when having a keg at a gathering. The permit fee is $5. The City of St. Cloud also requires residents to purchase a permit for kegs in the city.
In addition to the keg permit, city council members also approved a public-intoxication law and a social-host ordinance. St. Joseph joins other cities that include St. Cloud, St. Paul, Chaska and Minnetonka, whose councils also thought this law was worthy of implementation in their community. It took some time before city officials decided to adopt it, an observation that shows they thought about it thoroughly before introducing it to citizens.
The social-host ordinance is a law that holds people criminally responsible for hosting events or gatherings where people under the age of 21 possess or consume alcohol regardless of whether the host of the event supplied the alcohol. This ordinance applies to situations in which the social host knows or has reason to know that alcohol is being possessed or consumed by persons under 21 years of age at the gathering.
Under this law, the social host does not have to be present at the party, event or gathering to be criminally responsible. The ordinance does not apply to conduct solely between an underage person and his or her parents in the parents’ household and legally protected religious observances. If a parent is away for the weekend and does not know about a party, their underage child had, they are not liable, according to the ordinance.
In addition to the host of meetings officials had about these laws, they also held a public hearing during their last meeting. No one attended. The laws recently adopted in the city show a commitment to change and to maintaining a safe community. Take the time to learn about them and how they will affect you. Call your city officials and ask them why they thought these laws were important. These changes affect your life and for some residents, the lives of their children. The new laws will take effect March 1.