New Milford to consider underage drinking ordinance
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.
Mayor Murphy is hoping residents will come to the council meeting Monday and let members know how they feel about a possible local ordinance that would penalize those who host parties where alcohol is served to underage drinkers.
Existing ordinances in some other towns also fine minors who are in possession of alcohol on private property unless they are accompanied by their parent or guardian.
The council meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the E. Paul Martin Meeting Room in town hall. Public participation takes place at the beginning of the meeting.
Mayor Murphy said she was unaware that the state did not have a law regarding underage drinking until recently and that it is up to each town to pass an ordinance. She's asked the town attorney, Randy DiBella , to draft a proposed ordinance.
"I'm not trying to interfere with family customs with their children," the mayor said Wednesday, noting that she prefers minimal government intrusion in private life.
She said, however, that 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," Mayor Murphy said. "It might be a reminder for parents to lock up their alcohol cabinet."
According to the website of the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking, 34 towns in the state have such ordinances including Newtown, Ridgefield, Redding and Weston to the south, Winchester to the north and several towns in the Hartford area.
According to CCSUD, 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 hosting 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.
The Winchester ordinance states that hosts who knowingly provide alcohol to minors (not accompanied by a parent, guardian or spouse 21 or older) at any event in town on public or private property are subject to arrest and prosecution and a fine of $100 for each offense. Winchester adopted its ordinance in April 2003.
For more information at CCSUD: www.preventionworksct.org .