Tempe to raise fine for supplying alcohol to minors

The Tempe City Council passed an amendment Nov. 3 to impose tougher consequences for adults who purchase alcohol for minors under the age of 21. (Photo by Lisa Bartoli)

Tougher Penalties

- $250 fine for first offense

- $1,000 fine for second offense

- $1,500 fine for each following offense

Starting in February, parents and adults caught purchasing alcohol for minors in Tempe will face tougher penalties, Tempe Community Council Coalition Coordinator Bobbie Cassano said.

The Tempe City Council unanimously passed the social-host ordinance on Nov. 3 as a means to educate parents and children about the dangers of underage drinking, Cassano said.

“Since the majority of it is coming through homes and parties, it was very important for us to get at that source,” Cassano said.

The ordinance is an amendment to the existing loud party ordinance.

The amendment will fine adults $250 for the first offense or the option of a $100 substance abuse class, a $1,000 fine for the second offense and a $1,500 fine for each following offense, Cassano said.

Kim Bauman, a Tempe social services supervisor, said the ordinance is intended as more of an education opportunity than a severe punishment tool.

“The revision to the ordinance was not to be punitive but more to hold those individuals accountable who continue to supply alcohol to underage youth,” Bauman said.

Cassano said the education is meant to target kids between the ages of 12 and 18. She said kids who begin drinking before they are 15 years old have a 40 percent likelihood of becoming addicted to alcohol as opposed to 7 percent who begin drinking when they are 21 years old.

A 2010 community norm survey found that 87.4 percent of those who responded were in favor of a law that would hold adults accountable when hosting underage drinking parties.

Cassano said ASU isn’t a major influence on the ordinance but said Tempe had to take it into some consideration.

“There is no way around it,” Cassano said. “We know that the University influences our entire community and because (alcohol) is so readily available and many of our kids are inclined to go to some of those parties, it’s important that we know.”

Cassano said the goal of the ordinance is to bring awareness that underage drinking should no longer be seen as a life milestone.

“We’re trying to change a paradigm,” Cassano said. “Instead of the paradigm that underage drinking is a rite of passage, we’re trying to say underage drinking can be dangerous to your brain, your addictions and your safety.”

Reach the reporter at brennan.j.smith@asu.edu

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