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Underage drinking hosts could get fined $2,500 in Mequon

July 23, 2014

Mequon — A series of underage drinking parties has caused Mequon officials to consider a new ticket that would fine parents $2,500 for hosting an underage party.

The Mequon Public Safety Commission on Tuesday, July 21, recommended the Common Council adopt a "social hosting citation," which would be the first of its kind in the Milwaukee area. The citation would levy a fine nearly seven times higher than the existing fine of $376. Mequon aldermen will consider an ordinance creating the citation at upcoming meetings in August and September.

Mequon Police Chief Steven Graff drafted the ordinance in response to a series of underage drinking parties that were knowingly hosted by parents. In one incident, a parent hosted a drinking party with 65 kids. In other incidents, parents in the house claimed not to know about the party, or in some cases, called their attorneys or required warrants before letting officers into the house.

Connie Pukaite, the chairwoman of the Public Safety Commission, said the hefty $2,500 fine is intended to get the attention of parents who host underage parties.

"Apparently, a few hundred dollars hasn't deterred some people, so we need a tool that grabs their attention," Pukaite said. "We're taking preventative steps to create an ordinance that is a wake-up call to people hosting these parties."

Although the citation would be for $2,500, the actual amount of the fine would be decided by the judge in the Mid-Moraine Municipal Court.

Parents would not be cited if they were not present and had no knowledge of the drinking party. A person could, however, be considered a host if they are not present at the house, but knew about the underage drinking party.

A similar ordinance has already been adopted in Fon du Lac County. The ordinance would be separate from the existing state law penalizing those who provide alcohol to those under the age of 21.

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