County takes stand against underage drinking

 

LaGRANGE – The Troup County Commission is looking at an ordinance that aims to help the sheriff’s office fight back underage drinking through better defined penalties for people who allow the behavior on private property.

The Social Hosting Ordinance – which was proposed during Tuesday’s commission work session – would create clearer definitions of what counts as allowing underage drinking and what the penalties would be. Under the proposed ordinance, a social host would be defined as someone who “knows or should reasonably know that a gathering will occur on property owned or controlled by that person; knows or reasonably should know that alcoholic beverages will be at the gathering; and knows or should know that one or more underage person will be present at the gathering.”

“This would be another tool that the sheriff could use if someone has a party – usually it would be a teen party – and (allows) access of alcohol to minors under 21 years of age,” said County Manager Tod Tentler. “… The first offense would be a $200 fine to the adults who are allowing that, and the second would be a $500 fine, and then any previous would be a $1,000 fine with a minimum of a hundred hours of community service.”

The county referenced similar ordinances from other areas in putting together this ordinance and also worked with Twin Cedars on the ordinance, according to Tentler.

“We certainly welcome it as an additional tool that we can use to keep Troup County even safer, especially our young people,” said Sheriff James Woodruff.

According to Woodruff, it is uncommon for the sheriff’s department to be called to the same location more than once for underage drinking, but it does happen. The ordinance does not list possible jail time though state regulations regarding underage drinking do include possible jail time as a penalty. The state also regulates maximum possible fines, so the ordinance would simply define where in the state approved range the fines would fall.

The public hearing for the ordinance is planned for Tuesday’s meeting.

The commissioners also discussed the construction planned for a Hammett Road bridge by the Georgia Department of Transportation that spans a Yellow Jacket Creek tributary which should begin on Monday and how the detour would affect school bus routes at the meeting.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday at 9 a.m. at 200 Ridley Ave.

Reach Alicia B. Hill at alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.