WYNNE, AR (KAIT) - The Wynne City Council will review an ordinance proposed by Alderman Terri Morris Tuesday, October 13, 2009. The measure is in regards to underage drinking at parties thrown or hosted by individuals over the age of 21. Under Wynne City Ordinance 726, penalties for such an offense would include a fine of $500 for the first offense with the fine doubling for each subsequent offense or imprisonment. Those convicted would also have to pay all court costs and statutory penalties, which include response time for police officers and medical bills if someone is injured.
"In last month's meeting, an alderman presented to the city council with an ordinance related to teenage drinking. The alderman asked the city council to discuss that among themselves and review it and next month, they will make a decision on what to do about that ordinance," said Mayor Paul Nichols.
According to Nichols, who isn't publicly supporting or opposing the measure, Police Chief Jeff Sanders told him the measure is similar to an Arkansas state law that was passed in July of this year.
"He told me at the time after he reviewed it that it mirrored a state law and he didn't think we needed to adopt it," said Nichols. "From my understanding in talking to the police chief, the only thing this does that the state law does not do is it increases the penalty by a minor amount."
Nichols said the police department will begin enforcing the measure if the city council approves of it.
"Based on my first conversations with the police chief, I thought that the state law covers this and I think it does, and in reading the ordinances and the state statute, but it does increase the penalties a little bit," said Nichols.
Cross County voted in favor of a similar ordinance in mid-September by an 8-0 margin. Region 8 News spoke with County Judge Kenneth Witcher, who said he was also in favor of the ordinance.
According to Sheriff J.R. Smith, the punishments for violating the ordinance are severe.
"If someone of age throws a party, say they're 21 or older and they throw a party and minors show up, it holds them responsible for providing alcohol to the minor," said Smith.
The city council meeting will be held at 7:00 pm at the Wynne City Hall on Falls Blvd.
"It can be punishable by a Class A Misdemeanor, $500 or more for the first offense and if they get caught doing it again, it could double," said Smith. "Response providers to a gathering but not limited to salaries, benefits, code enforcement, fire or other personnel for amount of time spent responding or remaining at or on scene."
"It's going to send a message that you just can't have a party, whether you invite them or they show up. It's going to make people more responsible for their actions," said Smith.