Norman cracks down on underage drinking

Wednesday, March 26th 2008, 10:38 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

The party is over. Norman police have a new tool to crackdown on underage drinking. They're starting with the adults that supply the booze and the place to party. Norman is just the latest city to pass a social host ordinance.

Edmond was the first city to pass a social host ordinance. Since then, over twenty other cities across the state have followed suit, all in hopes of making an impact on underage drinking and driving.  

In the year that Edmond has had its social host ordinance, over 70 arrests have been made.

The purpose is to keep the community safe; the same reason Norman City Council unanimously passed the same ordinance Tuesday night.

"It's just another tool, another resource for the community to address those issues and keep the quality of life high and people safe," said Norman Police Captain, J.D. Younger.

It's not uncommon for Norman police to run into underage drinking.

"I would say it's representative of most towns that have a large university and a large population," Younger said. "We've been working on this issue in several forms for years."

Oklahoma currently has a social host law that makes it illegal to give alcohol to minors and allow parties where there is underage drinking.

But child safety advocate Anne Roberts said the law isn't enforced until it's too late.

"There are not penalties until a child dies, well that's terrible to wait until that happens before you do something about it," Roberts said.

Roberts is working with state lawmakers to make the penalties stiffer.

But before that happens, she applauds cities for taking a stance on underage drinking and hopes others do the same.

"Prom season is coming up, we've got to put things in place to protect our kids," Roberts said.

If the state passes the new social host law it will have graduated penalties, which means the first and second offenses are misdemeanors and up to  $2,500 fine. The third and subsequent offense is a felony.

Under Norman's law, if you are convicted of violating the ordinance, you face a fine of up to $750 and 60 days in jail.