Parents whose kids host underage drinking parties could face new fines in Napa County, whether the parents know what their children are doing or not.

The Napa County Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday to consider changes to the county’s Minor Alcohol Offenses Ordinance, which holds parents and other adults in unincorporated areas of the county responsible for hosting underage drinking in their home.

Under the proposed county ordinance, parents or other adult guardians could face fines of $500 for the first offense, $750 for the second offense and $1,000 for the third offense.

The proposed ordinance would replace the current law, adopted in 1996, which charges adults with a misdemeanor.

“The current ordinance is a criminal ordinance, and the proposed ordinance is a civil ordinance” said Shirin Vakharia, a prevention supervisor for the county’s Early Intervention and Youth Treatment Program.

Similar to the current ordinance, the proposal would hold parents responsible even if they are unaware that their kids are drinking.

“The responsible party is the host of the event,” said Vakharia. “... That is consistent with state law that provides for parents to be responsible for any financial obligations of their children, regardless of whether or not they know about their children’s actions.”

Each of Napa County’s towns have adopted similar ordinances, although the provisions and penalties vary.

The proposed changes follow the recent release of the California Healthy Kids Survey, which shows Napa County’s underage drinking rate to be alarmingly high.

According to the survey, 30 percent of Napa County 9th- and 11th graders say they get alcohol at parties or events outside school.

Half of Napa County 11th graders say it is “very easy” and 26 percent say it is “fairly easy” to get alcohol.

Meanwhile, 29 percent of Napa’s 11th graders report “binge drinking” within the past month. Almost half of all Napa County 11th graders have “binged” (defined as being drunk or sick after drinking). The state average is only 46 percent.

“Napa tends to come out a little higher on teen binge drinking,” Vakharia said, adding, “Our local efforts have really been that any amount of underage drinking, especially binge drinking, is unacceptable.”

A separate component of the proposed ordinance would address loud and unruly parties, regardless of whether underage drinking is allowed to occur.

Under the proposal, adults would face a civil fine for multiple public nuisance complaints during a six-month period.

The public is invited to comment on the ordinance at a hearing Tuesday, 

11 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, 1195 Third St. in Napa. This will be the public’s only opportunity to do so.

(13) comments

BigBlue

"Meanwhile, 29 percent of Napa’s 11th graders report “binge drinking” within the past month. Almost half of all Napa County 11th graders have “binged” (defined as being drunk or sick after drinking). The state average is only 46 percent."....
UMMMMM isn't "almost half" and 46 percent the same thing. So we are on par with the state average. What kind of reporting is this?

wine whine

In response to "Rebeldog", ...Amen!

Napa River

Changing the fine to a Civil fine from a Misdemeanor makes sense. What doesn't make sense is the reason - The California Healty Kids Survey. It is not the job of the City Council to be "Big Mommy". Kids drink mostly because they see their parents drink. Napa County makes its' living off of people drinking. This new proposal, even though it makes sense, will have zero affect on teen drinking. You don't have to have a party to drink. There should be a focused education on teaching kids not to be in a car period when someone drinks. The focus should be on drinking and driving not on parties.

tomhansen

Make Napa Better said on: April 24, 2010, 11:26 am
The first 2 comments are asanine, weren't you young once? Your parents went out of town and you sipped the ripple?

I'm not advocating minors and alcohol one bit but come on! It's like a right of passage to get hammered once and toss your cookies.

In regards to the aforementioned comment quoted above...
the problem is, too often, the first time is the last and only time.

rebeldog

It amazes me that anyone involved in Napa County local government or anyone in Napa County for that matter would find a high rate of teenage alcohol use startling.

How many wineries are here, restaurants serve, festivals and Chef’s Market events with open care alcohol do our children see in a given year?

We are literally drowning in wine folks…and now so are your kids.

Children learn from and emulate their environment.

Why is it surprising that children inundated with wine culture, seeing and endless stream of wine indulging tourists, watching a Wine Train roll by now and then, having parents and loved ones involved in the wine business, and often taking tours of wineries themselves might find alcohol consumption socially acceptable?

Every time our county’s politicians have granted a license to a winery, a restaurant selling alcohol, a hotel for more wine tasting tourists, they have put a nail in some poor teenage kid’s DUI coffin. That’s the power of vice folks.

Napagrrl

Geez, Reg! Once again, I am censored for, apparently, saying something inappropriate! My point was simply that so many adults, referring to their teenagers, say "I'd rather they drink at home than elsewhere..." creating alcoholics and disregarding the fact that teen brains are still developing. (If you didn't censor my comment, then your "comment" feature isn't working - once again!)

littlered56

When My kids had parties the rule was the kids parents had to tell me it was ok with them if their kid drank in my home. I took their car keys and they could not have them back until the next morning..they had back packed to sleep in and went swimming at midnight..we fed then coffee and breakfeast the next morning.

I think when parents alloow a kid to drink and drive off in a car that parent is the one more guilty of the crime of drunk driving
There are safe ways to do thing and turning a drunk kid loos at the wheel of a car is just wrong.

divided we fail

"Half of Napa County 11th graders say it is “very easy” and 26 percent say it is “fairly easy” to get alcohol."

This story is spinning so much its making me dizzy. I feel half of American children can say "very easy' to get alcohol. Its called the FRIDGE!

Is this story to stop teenage drinking? Or just to tell dummies that provided a place where minors can drink, their fine is being raised. There is an law already in the books, and how many fines or tickets or prison sentences have been given out? I can't find it , in the story. Its simply impossible for police to enforce this law, unless one gets hurt. I got an Idea, if you have a party of 9 or more, you would have to get an party permit. wish an small fee, someone will arrive at your party and make sure no minors are drinking.

Heres another Idea, why don't talk to the students and maybe they can figure out, its not about the alcohol. Its the drugs! dummy. Alcohol, is old news, the puff , pop and sniff is the problem

delgado

i think the law should be-
all teen parties in napa can only be held at the
houses of the first two commenters:
1bigj and littlered56
and they have to pay for the kegs too!

you gotta FIGHT........FOR YOUR RIGHT.....
TO PAARRTTTTTTTTY!


littlered56

I know all too well what I did when I was a kid..I also recall 4 of my sons friend killed in one accident while drinking and then 4 more and my daughter has lost 6 friends to dui drivers..that is 14 kids funerals I went to who died before they reached 21 That is enough for me to know what I am talking about and what driving drunk causes.

At some point and time we as responbile adults have to face up to what we did as kids does not make it good for our kids to do.
I smoked right up to the day I had to be put on oxygen for the rest of my life...so does that mean I should have my kids smoke too and my grand kids too...I think not!

Make Napa Better

The first 2 comments are asanine, weren't you young once? Your parents went out of town and you sipped the ripple?

I'm not advocating minors and alcohol one bit but come on! It's like a right of passage to get hammered once and toss your cookies.

But, I do agree. Parents should keep a tighter reign on their children.

littlered56

I say make it $2,500.00 and 30 days in jail..

1bigj

Since the article clearly states that there has been a law in place since 1996, everyone is aware of the situation, so lets skip the 1st and 2nd offenses and just zap the parents with a $2,500.00 fine the first time.....with no wiggling out of it....you get fined..you pay it or suffer the legal consequenses. Just maybe if parents have to shell-out a few bucks we can get these parties stopped.

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