September 23, 2009 Edition

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ATOD pushing for
new social host law

Shantelle Prater
Staff Writer

The Lawrence County ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs) Coalition is hoping to see a social host law implemented in Lawrence County on the heels of a similar law passed at the state level.

The state legislature recently passed House Bill 1586, which states each social host who knowingly serves alcohol to persons under the age of 21 and allows minors to consume alcohol on his or her property will be held accountable by law, excluding family members.

According to the bill, a first violation will be classified as a Class C misdemeanor, the second will be a Class A misdemeanor, and the third or subsequent violation will be considered a Class D felony.

Locally, a committee is working to create a law to be implemented at the county level.

Committee Chair Jody Dotson and members Cloyis Daughhetee, Cathy Gonzales, Dina Durham, Junior Briner, Ethel Tompkins, Lori McKenzie and Rita Prestidge have researched other county level bills.

Alison Oglesby, ATOD project director, said having social host laws in place is a major asset in the coalition's efforts to reduce underage drinking.

"Social host ordinances provide a practical tool for holding adults accountable for their actions when dealing with alcohol and minors," she said.

The law will resemble the state law, but plans are to change the exclusion to only include children, not any family member.

"We hope to make the law a little more stringent in that area," Oglseby said.

In order for the law to take affect, it must first be drafted by the county attorney and then approved by Quorum Court.

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