On Lauderdale County's new consumption ordinance
Aug. 1, 2001
Lauderdale County supervisors have amended a 1997 ordinance concerning possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by any person under the age of 21. Such possession or consumption is now illegal. Violators will face a misdemeanor charge carrying a maximum fine of $1,000 and six months in the county jail.
Sheriff Billy Sollie, who proposed the change, said it would help keep roadways safe from teen-agers who have been drinking at parties or other events out in the county. The ordinance makes exceptions for drinking in one's own home or in a religious ceremony in church.
This should be viewed as a get-tough ordinance that can carry dire consequences for teens. It goes a step beyond public drunkenness statutes. Few young people relish the idea of a criminal conviction on their records because that's the sort of thing that can keep them from getting a job, maybe even going on to college. There is an escape clause for youths who behave themselves for a year after conviction under this ordinance they have the right to petition Justice Court to have their records cleared.
Hopefully, the message being delivered in this new ordinance will be heeded by teen-agers, and help prevent the often tragic consequences of drinking and driving.