Social host law seeks to battle underage drinking

County sets hearing for public input on underage measure

The Washington County Board of Supervisors agreed to hear input from the public on a proposed social host law, setting an April 17 date for residents to offer comment.

 

The public hearing will take place at the beginning of the regular board of supervisors meeting in April at the county Municipal Center in Fort Edward. 

The law could mean fines and jail time for anyone who knowingly allows underage people to drink alcohol in a residence they are responsible for.

Granville Supervisor Rodger Hurley said afterwards, “I think the issue that the law is attempting to address, of parents not taking responsibility for the behavior of their children and the involvement of other people in that behavior, is a very serious matter.”

Hurley said he looked forward to the public hearing to gauge the mood of the public on the issue of parental responsibility.

“The central issue is in being able to, with justification, determine whether parents knew or should have known about the actions of their youngsters and other youngsters coming into their property, whether they knew or should have known,” Hurley said.

“This is no doubt a profound problem, entirely unhealthy and putting young people at risk and that should not be,” he said. 

Hurley said laws already existed that made it illegal for adults to provide alcohol to minors. This law would also make it illegal for them to knowingly provide a place for them to drink.

The proposed law comes after the parents of a Putnam teen were each convicted of endangering the welfare of a child for allowing an underage drinking party to take place at their residence.

Their son, 17-year-old Dustin St. Andrews, is already serving a state prison term for the death of two teenage girls who died when the car he was driving left Route 22 and crashed. Shannon James and Michaella Lopes, each 16, were killed in that crash.

St. Andrews was sentenced to 2 and half to 7 and a half years in state prison

Jimmy Joe and Kellie St. Andrews’ sentencing for those charges was postponed due to personal issues with their defense attorney, Mark Major.

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said he examined and passed on to Washington County Attorney Roger Wickes laws from Whitehall and Hudson Falls as examples of the laws already enacted.

Kortright said any of those measures made a good starting point.

Penalties discussed for violating the new law were, first offense a $250 fine and up to 15 days in jail; second offense, a $500 fine and up to 20 days in jail and a third violation of such a law could bring up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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