November 27, 2014


Elyria weighs underage drinking party law

ELYRIA — A proposed city law would give police the ability to charge adults criminally for hosting parties for underage guests where alcoholic beverages are served.

State law requires police to prove adults knew alcohol would be consumed at a party and knew underage guests would attend, said city Law Director Scott Serazin.

A less-severe city ordinance could be enacted and be easier to prove, he said. City Council is expected to discuss the issue Wednesday.

“The state charge is harder to prove on the spot by police, but having a city charge of a lesser degree would help officers,” Serazin said. “They may be able to prove negligence or prove recklessness on the part of the parents.”

The ordinance will be discussed during the Utilities, Safety and Environment Committee meeting 6 p.m. Wednesday in City Council chambers.

The state law is a misdemeanor of the first degree, which is just below the lowest-level felony. The city ordinance would be a third- or fourth-degree misdemeanor, Serazin said.

“We are not trying to bring the hammer down on parents, but we do want something that would be a deterrent for hosting these kinds of parties,” he said.

The social hosting ordinance proposal was discussed earlier this year when several Elyria Council members held a town hall meeting on underage drinking. It was co-sponsored by the Communities That Care of Lorain County and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration in conjunction with the Parents who Host Lose the Most campaign.

During that May meeting, Police Lt. Jonathan Pelko discussed the limitations officers have when it comes to breaking up underage drinking parties. Officers need probable cause to enter homes, he said.

Serazin said he would recommend Council look at adopting a similar ordinance to one passed in Dublin in 2009. According to the Dublin city website, the law is not widely used. Since 2009, just 14 people have been charged with violations of the law — five adults 18 and older and nine juveniles.

“We know a lot of parents turn a blind eye to it,” Serazin said. “But it’s much more common than it needs to be. Although we haven’t had any parents to prosecute as of late, it doesn’t mean these parties are not going on.

“Unfortunately, when we do hear about them, it’s because of the catastrophic consequences, like six kids getting into a car with a drunk driver and getting into a fatal accident.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

  • tickmeoff

    “Unfortunately, when we do hear about them, it’s because of the catastrophic consequences, like six kids getting into a car with a drunk driver and getting into a fatal accident.” This law needs to be repealed. It’s a feel good law, similar to three strikes and they lock you away forever. Either make adulthood 21 or repeal this ridiculous law.You actually have a better chance of this happening now than before!

    The six kids getting into a car with a drunk driver is actually encouraged by this law to do exactly that. The reality of life and the do-gooder’s intentions couldn’t be further apart. As a young adult, I learned to drink with my family. I was able to experiment in the safest environment possible, The Family Environment. It was a passage into adulthood that came with lessons on how to handle oneself. The family is where a young adult should learn about alcohol. Not having to buy alcohol illegally and then drive somewhere to avoid your parents or other adults ratting you out. Write all the laws you want. The reality is they are going to get the alcohol anyway. Let the family decide, the state should get it’s nose out of what is family business. People will say a law is a law, but this is ridiculous. Make the law uniform, all adult privileges and responsibility’s at 18 or 21. Not 18 and you can serve your country and come home in a body bag, but you cannot have a drink because you are not 21 yet. Human behavior will never change, Humans are curious. This law was rammed down our throats by the federal government due to holding back Federal Highway funds. Taxes we had already payed. I have lived in both era’s and the better era was 18 with the ability to buy, than the present with the 18 year old adults buying alcohol illegally and then driving somewhere with their friends to avoid being caught.

  • Sis Delish

    To provide an effective deterrent to these types of Events perhaps the confiscation of ALL Liquor in the home of the Responsible Parties would do it.

    Imagine if the real reason some Responsible Parties (i.e.: Parents) allow these types of parties to assemble is that they either assess a Responsible Party Tax of a certain percentage of the alcohol brought to the party by the young ones, OR, they harvest the un-opened remnants for their own use.

    In a word, the Responsible Parties are having their own drinking patterns “subsidized” by the temporary party permit they issue to the young ones. By going in and removing the entire inventory of booze in the residence, the Responsible Parties will now have a huge replenishment expense where they thought they were looking at a modest surplus, and a saved trip to the local beverage drive-thru, courtesy of the Young Ones.

    Just a thought…

    P.S. The Confiscated liquor would be donated to the annual Police/Sheriff drink-a-thon in the woods of Western New York where City Council members are invited guests. Problem solved for all.

  • Brian_Reinhardt

    Ohio Revised Code

    (A) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no person shall sell beer or intoxicating liquor to an underage person, shall buy beer or intoxicating liquor for an underage person, or shall furnish it to an underage person, unless given by a
    physician in the regular line of the physician’s practice or given for
    established religious purposes or unless the underage person is supervised by a
    parent, spouse who is not an underage person, or legal guardian.

    Why do you need another law where one CLEARLY exists?

    • Raymond Cruz

      unless the underage person is supervised by a
      parent so a parent can legally give his child a beer according to this law

      • Brian_Reinhardt

        The law Elyria intends to pass will NOT change the fact that parents are allowed to give their child alcohol.

        All they wish to do is lower the bar of culpability to a level that diminishes due process rights of parents or you.

        Imagine the next step…

    • Bruce Tennant

      Because there are no other problems in Elyria to fix ? Because Elyria is operating at such a high level of economic and governmental efficiciency that it can afford to spend officials time remodeling existing state laws ? come on folks worry about fixing infrastructure….stimulating development etc. I get it that things like that are hard and fiddling around with this might give a sense of accomplishment but please do something that makes a real contribution.

  • Mark B

    Does EPD not have enough to do ? Like go out and fight real crime , this is just a distraction for the statistics , rather than fighting crime that will make the city as a whole a better place to live.