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Supervisors OK alcohol ordinance

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
July 20, 2001
The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Thursday to prohibit anyone under 21 from drinking alcoholic beverages.
The vote came with Board President Jimmie Smith's support despite voicing concerns last week. Smith said he backed the proposal because it lets young adults remove any charges from their record after a year.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie asked supervisors in May, and again last week, to prohibit anyone under 21 from drinking alcohol. State law prohibits public drunkenness and underage possession of alcohol, but not underage consumption.
The county law requires the Justice Court to hand out a form at the time young adults are arrested for drinking alcohol. If they don't violate the law again within one year, they can use the form to strike the charge from their record all without an attorney.
The law is similar to one in place in Meridian since 1982.
Residents speak
Before the supervisors cast their votes, they heard from some of the 60 people who showed up at the Lauderdale County Courthouse annex to attend a public hearing on the alcohol proposal.
Brenda Snowden, president of the Lauderdale County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, urged the board to pass the ordinance.
Snowden told supervisors that underage drinking has caused several Lauderdale County deaths including a 14-year-old who was killed by a16-year-old drunk driver and a 15-year-old who was killed by a 19-year-old drunk driver.
She showed supervisors a photo of an 8- and an 11-year-old who were killed by a 19-year-old drunk driver.
Drunk-driving victim
Renee Snowden, who is a teacher, told supervisors that she and her 19-year-old were victims of a 20-year-old drunk driver. She said her child spent a month in the hospital after the accident.
The only vocal opponent to the ordinance, Bob Woods, said he is against a law that calls for people to "expect teen-agers to be grown-ups. They're teen-agers. We all need to settle down and let them grow up."
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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