Ordinance would make parents accountable for underage drinking at homeCloquet city officials are considering a “social host” ordinance that would make parents responsible for hosting underage drinking events in their homes.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Cloquet city officials are considering a “social host” ordinance that would make parents responsible for hosting underage drinking events in their homes.
“We thought it might be a good option, especially for what we call problem homes where parents routinely allow it to occur,” said Cloquet Deputy Chief Terry Hill.
Hill was quick to point out that the ordinance would only apply to parents who knowingly host drinking parties, not to those who are unaware.
“It’s not for homeowners who are at the cabin, for example,” he said.
The issue has sparked controversy in several other communities around the state that have adopted similar ordinances, over the specifics Hill mentioned.
Cloquet city attorney Frank Yetka has drafted a provision, based largely on existing ordinances in Apple Valley, Minn., and other communities, which could eventually become part of the city code.
In it, the language states that “no person having control or any residence or premises shall allow an open house party, gathering or event to take place at the residence or premises if any alcoholic beverage is possessed or consumed by any minor. It shall also be unlawful for a person to intentionally aid, advise, hire, counsel or conspire with another to commit a violation in this [ordinance.]”
Three exceptions to the rule listed in the provision include consumption or possession of alcohol by an underage person when with his/her parent while at the parent’s household not during an event or gathering, when it’s part of a legally protected religious observance or when minors are lawfully in possession of alcohol during the course and scope of employment as permitted by law.
If an adult was found to be in violation, it would be a misdemeanor unless extenuating circumstances warranted leniency, in which case it could be treated as a petty misdemeanor with a financial penalty only, according to the ordinance draft.
Neither Hill nor Cloquet City Administrator Brian Fritsinger knew of any other communities in the Northland where a similar provision exists.
The ordinance has yet to come before council members for a vote or for discussion, but Fritsinger expects it to be on an agenda in the next few months.