Author Topic: Underage Drinking  (Read 1658 times)

Offline Editor

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Underage Drinking
« on: October 22, 2006, 11:03:15 AM »

Hackensack ponders law on underage drinking

Absolute sobriety - Editorial

In today's Record (Your Views):

Regarding "Absolute sobriety" (Editorial, Oct. 19), the issue is not limited to giving police more authority to break up teen parties, keeping them from hurting themselves and each other, or saving lives. We all want that. The issue is how the police arrive with that authority and how it is applied. Newspapers are the first ones to cry foul if they feel their First Amendment rights are being infringed upon.

Your article "Towns try to shut down teens' boozy home parties" (Page A-1, Oct. 16) says that 50 of the 70 municipalities have passed such ordinances, but the penalties vary and enforcement is uneven. I would think that violates the 14th Amendment, equal protection under the law, and the Fifth Amendment, due process. Then there is the Fourth Amendment regarding warrants and private property.

The Legislature should make sure that the enactment and enforcement of such a municipal ban is the same throughout the state of New Jersey; presently it is not.

Charles P. McAuliffe

Hackensack, Oct 19

The writer is a Hackensack city councilman.

In response to "Towns try to shut down teens' boozy home parties" (Page A-1, Oct. 16) and "Hackensack ponders law on underage drinking" (Page L-3, Oct. 18), let's be very specific. This type of municipal ordinance sets out consequences and penalties for the underage drinker for possession and/or consumption of alcohol on private property.

State law requires a municipality to provide for a $250 fine for the first offense and $350 for subsequent offenses. The governing body of that municipality has the option to custom-tailor additional penalties, such as postponement or suspension of driver's license, community service, and referral to alcohol counseling and/or treatment.

The most positive aspect of this ordinance is that it promotes and encourages responsible decision-making by underage persons. Not every party starts out with the presence of alcohol and, most likely, other drugs. Either way, teenagers have the opportunity to envision the worst-case scenario and consider what the end result might be before deciding to attend a party or leave early because things seem to be getting out of hand.

Hackensack's mayor and council are wise to review other town ordinances.

Perhaps they should start with contacting the most recent additions to the list of 50 Bergen towns to learn what turned longtime reluctance into the decision to be included. They should also review the ordinances enacted by South Hackensack, Maywood and Rochelle Park, whose students attend Hackensack High School.

I urge Hackensack's mayor and council not to hide behind the smokescreen of violation of constitutional rights and creation of a police state. Surely 50 borough attorneys would not have approved or participated in the drafting of this type of ordinance if these issues had been at risk.

Ronnie Jacobs

Hackensack, Oct. 18
« Last Edit: October 22, 2006, 11:19:53 AM by Editor »