Legislation would target parents who facilitate underage drinking
by Shamane Mills
Wisconsin Public Radio
MADISON - Some state lawmakers want to tweak existing laws to make it easier to cite parents who know about underage drinking on their property.
The proposed change in state law has the same intent as so-called “social host” ordinances at the local level: holding parents responsible for underage drinking they know about. The bill's author Rep. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) says under current law, some law enforcement was hesitant to cite parents for underage parties on their property because it wasn't clear they could do so based on previous court rulings.
"This gives a tool to local law enforcement to keep our communities safe when there are house parties — things where somebody is proving an opportunity for someone to drink underage.”
The bill's Democratic author, Rep. Penny Schaber (D-Appleton) calls it “a common sense” solution to curbing underage drinking.
But several lawmakers on the public safety committee expressed concerns parents could be fined for something their child did without their knowledge. Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) recalled how she threw a birthday party for her underage son and some teens snuck in alcohol.
“You can see how I would be frantic trying to explain my innocence. I made them nonalcoholic beverages, but....”
Co-author Schaber says the law gives officers discretion to cite a parent or not.