Kenosha Common Council passes social hosting ordinance

The Kenosha Common Council last night unanimously passed an ordinance designed to address underage drinking in their community.

This “social hosting” ordinance (Section 11.025 of the Code of General Ordinances for the City of Kenosha, Wisconsin) more clearly delineates parent/guardian/party host 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 mirrors the social hosting ordinance that has been in force in Manitowoc; one that is considered a “model”, and that is being replicated at numerous municipalities throughout the state.

Guida Brown, executive director of the Hope Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Inc., spoke in favor of the ordinance. “I’m sick of hearing me talk about it; I’m sure that you’re sick of hearing me talk about it, too.”

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 hold responsible those who either provide alcohol to underage youths or who provide the setting in which to consume it.

Alderperson G. John Ruffolo had several clarifying questions regarding whether parents would be cited if they had no knowledge of what was going on in their house. City Attorney Ed Antaramian’s response was that, if the parents hosted an event, they were permitting or allowing an event at their house, they were responsible for what went on during that event. It’s the parent’s obligation to supervise the event. They would be responsible.

Alderperson Anthony Kennedy said that, if the parents took reasonable steps to lock up the alcohol and monitor the kids’ activities, then they would not be held responsible.

Last fall, Alderpersons Michael Orth and Anthony Kennedy co-sponsored another ordinance change that made underage possession and consumption of alcohol easier to prosecute within Kenosha.

The fines for violations of this new ordinance range from $1,000 to $5,000, plus the costs of prosecution.



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