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04-06-06, 03:38 PM #1
Ventura County may fine adults who throw bashes where underage guests
Party May Be Over for 'Cool' Parents
Ventura County may fine adults who throw bashes where underage guests are drinking.
By Catherine Saillant, Times Staff Writer
March 29, 2006
After seeking assurance that police enforcement would not be overzealous, Ventura County supervisors moved a step closer Tuesday to imposing $1,000 fines on those caught throwing underage drinking parties.
Under a proposed ordinance, civil penalties could be imposed on any adult who holds an unruly gathering at which underage drinkers are served and police are called. A minor who throws such a bash without parental consent also could be fined.
If police are called to the same address more than once a year, the county Sheriff's Department could also seek reimbursement for response costs.
Depending on the size of the response, a homeowner could be billed thousands of dollars, law enforcement officials said.
Supervisors requested a few changes in the ordinance's language, but are expected to vote on it at next week's meeting.
As drafted, the ordinance would apply whenever two or more people gather for an underage drinking party. Supervisor Steve Bennett wondered if that definition was too broad.
Supervisor Judy Mikels said she was concerned that the definition might make it easy for one neighbor to harass another.
But Geoff Dean, chief deputy of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, said the proposed law is written that way to make enforcement easier. The goal is to deter behavior, not hunt for violators, he said.
"Kids do scatter when police arrive, so that is why we need that enforcement provision," he said, but added, "we don't want it abused because we don't want to lose it."
Although the ordinance would cover only the unincorporated areas of Ventura County, several cities are considering similar laws.
Fillmore and Ojai have already approved "social host" laws for their jurisdictions, said Ruth Cooper, who helped spearhead the Ojai effort.
Thousand Oaks, Santa Paula and Ventura are also looking into them, said Dan Hicks, a county drug and alcohol specialist who is helping to coordinate a countywide campaign against underage drinking.
While it is already illegal for an adult to provide alcohol to minors, those cases can be tough to prove, law enforcement officials said.
04-06-06, 04:19 PM #2Originally Posted by Stan Switek"Look, just give me some inner peace or I'll mop the floor with you!"
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