Mayor targets underage drinking
New Milford Mayor
The Town Council will take up the matter Monday, a little more than two weeks after New Milford High School football player Joe South was killed in a crash after attending a party in Sherman where some teens reportedly consumed alcohol.
The meeting will also take place a year after a forum was held at the First Congregational Church in town on underage alcohol use and the role of parents and the community.
Though state law forbids the sale of alcohol to minors and the consumption of alcohol by minors in public places, there is no state law that addresses teen drinking on private property.
In recent years, several towns - including Ridgefield, Brookfield and Newtown - passed measures that allow police to enforce drinking bans on private property. In many cases, police can fine underage drinkers and parents.
The laws, however, give parents discretion in serving alcoholic beverages to their own children.
Murphy said she was unaware until recently the state had no law regarding underage drinking. She's asked the town attorney, Randy DiBella , to draft the proposed ordinance.
"I'm not trying to interfere with family customs with their children," the mayor said Wednesday, noting she prefers minimal government intrusion in private life.
She said, however, she wants to help people prevent others from providing alcohol to their minor children.
"People should respect the wishes of other people and not serve other people's children alcohol," said Murphy, who urged parents to come to Monday's meeting. "It might be a reminder for parents to lock up their alcohol cabinet."
According to the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking, nearly 40 towns in the state have such ordinances. According to the coalition, 88 percent of state residents favor penalties for adult providers of alcohol and 68 percent believe stiffer penalties will deter youth from drinking.
The Ridgefield ordinance permits minors to possess alcohol when accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse over the age of 21.
It prohibits a person from holding anywhere in town, on public or private property, any event that allows the consumption of alcohol by minors not accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse 21 or older. The fine is $90.