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Higher fines begin for supplying alcohol to minors

Stringent alcohol laws went into affect Feb. 1 with heavy fines for adults caught purchasing alcohol for anyone under 21 in Tempe.

The new social-host ordinance passed by the Tempe City Council on Nov. 3 increased the fines for adults caught purchasing alcohol for minors, with the largest penalty at $1,500.

The law originated from the Tempe City Council’s concern about underage drinking.

The Tempe Coalition’s campaign “21 or Too Young” aims to spread more information about underage drinking using wristbands, videos, flyers, brochures, billboards and media outlet coverage.

Binge drinking is the most popular for 18- to 20-year-olds, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tempe Coalition Coordinator Bobbie Cassano said this law is necessary because too many students are drinking and receiving minor in consumption tickets.

Underage drinking is a big problem in the community and many misdemeanor offenses derive from drinking tickets, Tempe Police Cmdr. Mark Perkovich said.

Many studies show that the brain is not fully developed until age 24, Cassano said at a Tempe Education Partnership meeting Feb. 6.

She said there is a 40 percent likelihood of becoming an alcoholic for those who drink alcohol regularly before age 15 rather than a 7 percent chance for those who begin drinking at age 21.

“It is really important to find a way to hold the adults providing alcohol accountable,” Cassano said.

If fined, adults can pay  $250 for the first offense or take a $100 substance abuse class. A second offense is a $1,000 fine and any additional ones charge $1,500.

Parents can still be liable for underage drinking within their home, even if they are not present when the drinking occurs, and adults who furnish underage drinking will face criminal charges, she said.

The Tempe Coalition wants to educate residents and provide resources so they make the best choices.

“We want this to be a point of education and not a point of punishment,” Cassano said.

Councilmember Robin Arredondo-Savage said it is important to inform the community on the side effects of underage drinking.

“I think the community is uneducated about their options,” Arredondo-Savage said.

Decreasing marijuana usage is the next priority on the list for the Tempe Coalition, but primarily they are focusing on underage binge drinking, Cassano said.

Grants from Magellan Health Services of Arizona and Drug Free Communities fund the Tempe Coalition and the campaign.


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