LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – The city of La Crosse wants to pass a “social host” ordinance which would ticket parents who host underage drinking parties.
“It’s a matter of setting a path here, and essentially saying to young people ‘This is something that we have to be much more concerned about’,” City Council President Dick Swantz said.
Swantz, former Superintendent here in La Crosse as well as a former high school principal in McHenry, Illinois, said due to local high school prom and graduations around the corner, the social host ordinance needs to be in the books sooner rather than later.
“We’d like to see a reduction in that kind of activity and quite frankly, not have it result in kids saying ‘Well, if mom and dad aren’t going to provide it for us, we’ll find some other way of getting it’,” Swantz said.
Swantz said the ordinance could pass and be in effect as early as Tuesday. If the ordinance does pass, the city’s police department could fine homeowners between $1,000 and $5,000.
“What we’re trying to prevent is the alcohol-related incidents. Car crashes, injuries, deaths, that’s what it’s really about,” La Crosse Police Sergeant Randy Rank said.
Rank said his department has given fewer underage drinking tickets over the past few years because of social media and friendly neighborhood watch residents.
“There’s somebody watching, there is somebody paying attention. There’s people out in the community that are going to report underage alcohol violations and underage parties,” Rank said.
Rank said a new ordinance would give La Crosse Police another tool in their belts, while providing greater awareness and promoting a safe environment.
The La Crosse Police Department said they will ticket and fine people $376 when allowing 21-year olds in a bar or tavern.
Selling liquor or alcohol to a minor will cost $313. Children under the age of 17 will be charged $124 for their first violation, while minors between the ages of 18 and 20 years old will be charged $250 for their first violation.
All underage drinking-related cases in La Crosse will require people involved to appear in court, and violations could lead to potential loss of a driver’s license.
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