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Published January 26 2011

Forum editorial: ‘Host’ bill will send a message to adults about underage drinking

A bill in the North Dakota Senate to require monitoring of places where underage kids illegally drink alcohol comports well with the state’s notion of personal responsibility. Sen. Jim Dotzenrod, D-Wyndmere, said his legislation addresses the reality that adults who host events where kids drink need to be held responsible for illegal activity in their homes and on their property.

The bill would impose a fine of $500 for persons who knowingly allowed minors to drink on their property. Owners would also have to make a reasonable effort to stop underage drinking, including calling law enforcement.

While the “social host” bill has a problem or two that could be worked out with minor tweaks and amendments, the underlying concept is sound. Anyone who condones underage drinking by winking when such illegal activity is going on should be held accountable. If personal responsibility means anything, it certainly means paying attention when one’s property is being used for illegal activity. When that activity is kids drinking alcohol, adult responsibility is all the more applicable.

Unlike a defeated bill that would have banned alcohol at sports tailgating events, illegal underage drinking in private homes and out in the countryside is not confined, controlled and policed. Parties in homes and keggers in shelterbelts are unregulated free-for-alls that often result in tragedy when young people drink and drive. It’s unconscionable that adults would sanction such illegality. Dotzenrod’s legislation certainly won’t stop it all, but it will send the right message to adult property owners who allow their property to be used for an illegal purpose.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.