Social hosting ordinance passes committee

Note: The following report was prepared by Steve Fredriksson, SPF Process Director, “Stand Tall Against Alcohol,”  Concerned Citizens Coalition On Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse for Greater Kenosha — DH

An ordinance designed to increase enforcement of existing underage drinking laws has passed the  Kenosha Public Safety & Welfare Committee meeting Monday.

The proposed “social hosting” ordinance, sponsored by Alderman Michael Orth, more clearly delineates parent/guardian legal responsibility as it pertains to underage drinking gatherings. It also defines who can be held responsible when underage drinking occurs, and defines “residence, premises, public or private property” as those areas pertain to underage drinking gatherings. This ordinance closely mimics the social ordinance that has been in force in Manitowoc. That ordinance is one that is considered a “model”, and that is being replicated at municipalities throughout the state.

Survey data has shown that underage persons who’ve consumed alcohol routinely acquire it in social/party settings, and often after being procured by someone of legal age.This new ordinance augments what is currently contained within State Statute Section 125, and is designed to discourage those over the age of 21 from contributing to the problem of underage drinking, Orth .

Last fall, Aldermen Orth and Anthony Kennedy sponsored another ordinance change that made underage possession and consumption of alcohol easier to prosecute within the city. The proposed fines for violations of yesterday’s proposed social hosting ordinance would range from $1,000 to $5,000, plus the costs of prosecution.

When asked by Public Safety & Welfare Committee Chairman Jesse Downing whether these proposed fines were somehow out of line, Assistant City Attorney William Richardson answered that they were within the range of similar social hosting ordinances throughout the state.

Alderman Orth was emphatic that the purpose of this ordinance was not to increase fine/forfeiture collections, but to discourage unlawful actions.

Orth said it was his hope that this could be in force in time for Prom, Graduation and Summer Recess. Orth is a Tremper High School teacher, and stated that in his experience these occasions represent prime opportunities for underage persons to drink. He also commended the efforts of the Concerned Citizens Coalition of Greater Kenosha’s “Stand Tall Against Alcohol” initiative for increasing his awareness of the problem of social hosting in Kenosha County. He also mentioned the group’s marketing campaign, “Parents Who Host Lose The Most…Don’t Be A Party To Underage Drinking.”

The proposed ordinance passed through committee 5-0. It will now be considered by the full Common Council.


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