Change in demerit points gets deferred
At yesterday’s Licensing & Permit Committee meeting, Alderperson David Bogdala spoke on his proposed ordinance change regarding demerit points. He wants to change the amount of demerit points assessed to license holders of Class B and Class C establishments, and bartenders. His proposed changes included:
- Changing the amount of demerit points for second offense Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions from 40 to 80 points; and
- Changing the amount of demerit points for selling to underage persons from 20 points to 40 points.
Once an establishment has accumulated 100 points, they are called to appear in front of the Licensing & Permit Committee. Bogdala said, “This is a serious issue. We have alcohol issues in the city of Kenosha. One strike and you’re out if it were up to me.”
About a month ago, the Common Council removed all quota limitations for Class A license holders. This means that now, any gas station in the city can apply for a beer/liquor license. Bogdala said, “By opening up licenses all across the city, I hope that we now will be taking a tougher position and holding people accountable. ”
On yesterday’s agenda, there were eight such applications. Four were approved (Walgreen’s on 80th Street, Save A Lot on 52nd Street, BP Station & Mini Mart on 30th Avenue, Kenosha Fresh Market on 52nd Street), three were deferred for two weeks (Mobil Gas on Sheridan Road, Ayra’s Liquor on 22nd Avenue, and American Plaza Liquor on 75th Street), and one was denied (Grace Citgo on 22nd Avenue). Click here to read a prior story on this subject: Liquor License Quota Ends.
Bogdala continued: “Alderperson Anthony Kennedy always talks about giving second chances. I can see a person making a mistake once, but I’m not going to tolerate greater than two mistakes.” The new ordinance takes a hard stance against DUI’s. He said that he’s spoken to Senator Darling and Representative Ott regarding pending legislation that would change the penalties for DUI’s at the state level. He wanted to bring those forward to see if the city would support them. “It’s a positive step in the right direction,” he said. “It sends a bad message, to have multiple DUI convictions and be a license holder in the city of Kenosha.”
Regarding the underage sale citations, he commented about the social hosting ordinance that was enacted by the city two years ago. It assesses a person 100 demerit points. He stated that he felt that the current 20 demerit points, therefore, needed to be raised. “I’d like to see it higher than 40,” he said. However, he acknowledged that people make mistakes.
Alderperson Curt Wilson asked Matt Knight, assistant city attorney, to explain the current ordinance further. The first DUI is a civil violation in the state of Wisconsin. After the second offense, it becomes a criminal traffic matter, if it is a second offense within ten years of the first. After the third offense, all DUI’s are counted, whether or not they are within the ten-year time limit.
Wilson also wanted to know if there was any penalty to the person who presented the false identification to the bartender. Knight replied that yes, that person usually gets two or three citations.
Alderperson Patrick Juliana said that he understands that social hosting is deliberate. Licensed bartenders must follow the law. “We will just be inundating the system with more people in it. I don’t like the demerit system. The chief and I talked. I’m not for adding more points for the first time violation. I’d go with 20, 50, 100 on the third, but not the first time out. All we have are more regulations, more restrictions. I’m opposed to anyone operating a vehicle under the influence, but this won’t alleviate the problem. I just can’t back the amendment to change the points,” he said.
Alderperson Chris Schwartz asked for the police chief’s opinion. Police Chief John Morrissey said that there are two separate issues here. One is the 80 points for a criminal conviction. What we are doing is making it the same for these violations as the Common Council did. Then, it’s the 40 points for serving. Once a person has two violations, they have 80 points. They come before the committee. The first offense should be 20. That’s staggering. Why taken away by previous Common Council. One hundred points for social hosting, I feel it should be 80. One is knowing and one is not. It’s already in the statute. I would urge approval of the conviction for 80 points.”
Knight said that voting for these two changes “brings consistency back for the different licensees.”
Chairman Jesse Downing said that he didn’t agree with the 40 points for the sale to underage. With social hosting, you know it. With the fake ID’s, you need consistency. I’m not supporting changing that one,” he said.
Then, Juliana said that he was getting confused. He said that he would like to review it in more detail with Knight in his office. The committee was not looking at the entire ordinance, only the portions that were being changed. Juliana said that he’d like to go section by section and then see the inserts.
Bogdala said that he was not a social advocate against alcohol. This will just link up the ordinances we’ve already done.
Then, Kennedy made a motion to defer. He said that he intends to support, but he’d like to have the city attorney review the entire ordinance. He’d like to have all of the committee’s questions answered here. The next meeting of the Licensing & Permit Committee will be on February 11th. Bogdala said that he won’t be able to be in attendance. Wilson said that he could support the deferral. Bogdala asked for a meeting before the next Common Council meeting on Monday, February 4th. All were in favor of the deferral.