Community Passes Social Drinking Ordinance

Wednesday, September 26th 2007, 8:49 am
By: News On 6

PONCA CITY, Okla. (AP) _ Ponca City has become the latest municipality to pass an ordinance mandating fines and jail time for people who host a party where there is underage drinking. The ordinance defines a party as three or more people. The maximum penalty is a $750 fine and 30 days in jail.

Edmond, Shawnee, Mustang, Tecumseh and Yukon have similar ordinances.

``You shouldn't leave the rumpus room to the kids and spend the night in the bedroom,'' City Attorney Kevin Murphy said this week. ``You have greater responsibilities than that.''

Ponca City's ordinance makes it an offense to host a party if a minor is consuming alcohol. It also says the host must take actions to ensure underage drinking does not occur, including controlling the quantity of alcohol present and verifying the age of those drinking.

Murphy said city commissioners found that minors too frequently have access to alcohol at parties under the control of an adult. He said these parties often require multiple police visits, which drain police resources.

Religious services requiring the use of alcohol are not affected, Murphy said. Also, parents are not prevented from allowing their own children to consume alcohol under their supervision.

Edmond police have arrested 49 people on its ordinance --including two this week -- since it was put on the books in January, police spokeswoman Glynda Chu said. She said sometimes two or three people are arrested at a party.

A lot of arrests in Edmond have come from University of Central Oklahoma students having parties, Chu said. She said communities must promote the new ordinance for it to be effective.

Edmond City Attorney Steve Murdock said most defendants have been convicted. Each convicted defendant paid a $544 fine but faced no jail time.