Awards and Recognitions
Springs Weighs Fine For Parents Who Let Children Drink Alcohol
November 5, 2011 | By Lisa J. Huriash, Sun Sentinel
Parental permissiveness has a price: Coral Springs is considering fining parents for allowing underage drinking at home.
The city wants to join a national trend of municipalities using civil ordinances to make parents accountable for kids' drinking. Although a state criminal law is already on the books, city officials say there's a problem with enforcement.
"The fear for me is the cops get there and everybody leaves and God forbid somebody gets in an accident," said City Commissioner Tom Powers, who has a daughter in high school. He calls his initiative "cutting edge" for South Florida.
Under state law, first-time offenders face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. This year it was toughened to put second-time offenders in jail for up to a year and a $1,000 fine.
David Pinsker, Florida executive director for MADD, said the agency endorses the proposal Coral Springs is considering, which would fine parents up to $500 for allowing underage drinking in their homes.
"We support any efforts made by municipalities in trying to cut down on this because it's extremely dangerous," he said.
"It is problematic for us," Foster said. "We have a ton of parties and alcohol is always involved. [There have been] times we had parents say they can't police everybody, especially when a couple hundred kids show up to these parties."
Since the state statute was created in 1991, 146 cases were presented to the Broward State Attorney's Office. Of those, 105 cases were pursued - 69 pleaded no contest or guilty, said Ron Ishoy, a spokesman for Broward State Attorney Mike Satz. Nine of those cases are still pending.
The other cases were dismissed or defendants were found not guilty.
In Palm Beach County, 124 cases have been received since 1991. Of those, 109 were pursued, with 32 resulting in successful prosecutions.
For the full article visit the Sun Sentinel
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