• 61°

Law targets adults who let teens drink

JACKSON (AP) — Gov. Haley Barbour has signed into law a bill that supporters say will make it easier to prosecute parents who host drinking parties for teenagers.

The “social host” bill makes adults liable for knowingly allowing underage drinking on their property.

It applies to any private property, including deer camps or lake houses, said Caroline Newkirk, head of Mississippians Advocating Against Underage Drinking.

The new law, which goes into effect July 1, is not likely to wipe out teenage drinking parties entirely, “but it could take care of a large majority of them,” Newkirk said.

A violation would be a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

“This definitely strengthens the law,” said Andre Conway of the Central Mississippi office of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

“We feel this law will be very effective in raising awareness and curtailing the behavior.”

Parties where teens invite their buddies over with their parents’ permission to throw open the liquor cabinet or raid a fridge full of beer are common everywhere in the state, Newkirk said.

“It is a problem statewide, but we see a lot in this community. We don’t see as many as we used to,” said Ridgeland police Sgt. Gary Davis, who works as a resource officer in Ridgeland High School.

While he applauds the new law, Davis said law enforcement can’t know about every party, especially when parents and teens make sure to keep the drinking under wraps.

“Unless a kid stumbles into a yard or there are a lot of cars at a house, we don’t know,” he said. “They’ve got it to a fine art so they’re not detected.

“There are parents hosting parties who will have the kids park at another location and they’ll shuttle them — pick them up and bring them to their house,” Davis said.

The idea of those adults is that if the teens don’t have their cars they can’t get into trouble, Davis said.

“There are so many parents who are not aware the dangers of underage drinking go beyond drinking and driving,” Newkirk said. “There are injuries that can take place without a car.”

New research shows the long-term affect alcohol can have on teenagers’ brains, Newkirk said.

“Drinking at young ages can cause irreparable brain damage.”

Currently, local officials have to rely on charging adults with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The stronger penalty and the criminal liability should make parents or other adults consider the consequences of hosting parties, Newkirk said.

According to the Alcohol Policy Information System, as of Jan. 1, 2010, eight states had social host laws specifically directed at underage drinking, while 19 other states had general hosting laws.

___

News

Law officials arrest 3 in connection with automobile burglaries in Montebello area

News

Master Gardners host spring plant sale at Co-Lin

News

Security officer enjoys building relationships with students

Business

Jobs everywhere but few workers to fill them

Business

Natchez artist opens mobile-making studio amid pandemic

News

Concordia Parish jury finds Clayton man guilty in killing of his wife, 12-year-old boy

News

International investors from India visit Natchez on economic development trip

News

Donations of items needed for 3rd Gayrage Sale

News

City approves final lease for historic train depot on Broadway Street

News

Lt. Gov. Hosemann addresses American Rescue funds in Natchez, Adams County

Business

Hosemann won’t close door to Medicaid expansion in Mississippi

News

Natchez Euro Fest moved to Sunday due to weather

News

Local resident takes photo of lightning strike behind Mississippi River bridges

News

Firefighters work house fire on Rankin Street Tuesday night

News

ACCS Drama Club to perform Aladdin Saturday

News

CPSB names candidates for Superintendent of parish schools

News

Police investigating shooting on Bishop Street

News

Thomas named STAR Student at NHS, chooses Coach Haywood as STAR Teacher

News

Library closes for renovations

News

Adams County man arrested for alleged sex crime with juvenile

News

Master Gardener plant sale April 17 at Co-Lin

News

Harriss keeps active

News

Cemetery restoration workshop comes to Natchez Wednesday

News

CPSB reviewing applicants for new superintendent of schools