WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 12, 2010, 09:03 AM

Social host ordinance proposed in Moorhead

Moorhead, Minn. (WDAY TV) - It could be your house, your yard, even your fire pit. If you don't take reasonable measures to make sure underage drinking isn't happening, you could be held criminally responsible.

EBBINGER: “We've got a gap.”

Current law blames the minor who's drinking and the person who provides the alcohol. The social host ordinance goes step further, holding the person who provides the place, responsible. If you can't prove you took reasonable measures to prevent a party like this on your property, you could face 90 days in jail and a fine, even if you're not home during the party.

EBBINGER: “I'm not going to try and convince them I'm right. They're wrong, and they'll be held accountable.”

Chief Ebbinger says underage drinking is a big problem in Moorhead because of all the college students and he says as long as people host parties; it will continue to be a problem.

SZYMASNKI: “I don't think its inappropriate targeting.”

MSUM president Edna Szymanski supports the ordinance as one more way to encourage students to make safe, legal decisions.

SZYMASNKI: “I am biased, because I signed one letter this year and I have in the past to parents whose kids were killed by a drunk driver, and I don't want to sign too many of those.”

The proposed social host ordinance still needs council approval to become law. More than fifty cities in Minnesota have adopted a social host law. Fargo does not have a social host ordinance, although there is a group pushing for it statewide.