Matthew Beckett: Take a position on law
To the editor:
The social hosting ordinance looks to take its first steps toward law at the Oct. 13 Craig City Council meeting. The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. I encourage everyone to attend, regardless of your position on the ordinance. The ability to make our voices heard is what makes our country truly amazing.
The ordinance reads, "the City Council finds that the threat posed to the public health, safety and welfare by underage persons possessing and consuming alcohol on private property, : requires owners or persons in control of private property to ensure that they do not knowingly permit underage persons to use the private property for the purpose of consuming alcoholic beverages."
That summarizes what the ordinance is written to accomplish. Without the legal jargon, simply it means it would be illegal to provide places for youth to drink alcohol.
When reading this summary, one might ask:
Q: Aren't there laws already on the books to handle this?
A: There are laws against providing a minor with alcohol but nothing concerning providing the place where the alcohol is consumed. Theoretically speaking, I could host underage drinking parties every night provided I did not purchase the alcohol. The youth at the party could be cited for minor in possession, but as for me, the host, there currently is nothing that legally could be done.
Q: I should have the right to provide alcohol to my child. For cooking, weddings, etc.
A: This ordinance will not change those laws. You, as a parent, are allowed to let your minor children drink in the home or on your private property. You do not have the right to provide alcohol to minors other than your own children, and with the passing of this law, you will not be allowed to knowingly provide the place for minors other than your children to consume alcohol.
Q: How do we prove someone knowingly provided?
A: This is a valid point and one that the city attorney will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Our judicial system is designed to investigate and solve these types of cases. Police respond to underage drinking parties because they are called by neighbors, community members, concerned parents, etc. It is our responsibility as homeowners, and Craig residents to take control of our own homes and property. As adults, we always should know what is happening on our property and in our homes.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of this ordinance, even though questions remain, is that there is no downside to passing it. If this ordinance saves one life it is successful. Adults need to take one step back and realize this ordinance is but one strategy in a comprehensive prevention plan that allows young people to live healthier, longer lives.
Limiting access to alcohol is a proven strategy to curtail underage consumption. I am in the prevention business. Why wait until it's an issue of intervention, treatment, punishment or even worse yet, loss?
As a community all we need to do is answer this question, is it in the best interest of our youth?
Grand Futures Prevention Coalition