Will Hosting Underage Drinking In Wisconsin Finally Be Banned?

underage drinkingIt’s an area of law that many thought was settled, even if they weren’t sure exactly how. The law concerns minors, and whether or not adults can serve alcohol to them in their own homes.

But the issue is far from settled. Thanks to the 2nd District Court of Appeals, who ruled last month on the matter, hosting underage drinking in Wisconsin is okay. In your own home, you can mix up martinis for your teenagers.

But a number of legislators want to change that. Led by Representative Andre Jacque (R-De Pere), these lawmakers want to close a loophole in Wisconsin law and make it illegal for adults to host underage drinking parties.

Exposing the Loophole: Allowing Underage Drinking

Fond du Lac had its own ordinance prohibiting just such parties when a local citizen found himself in violation of it, after under-21s began drinking at his son’s high school graduation party. The offender, Stuart Muche, sued, arguing that the local law prohibiting the kids from drinking at home is improperly stricter than state law.

The court agreed. Wisconsin state law prohibits adults from hosting minors on “premises” that the adult controls. Muche argued that “premises” means a tavern, store, or restaurant, not a home, and the judge concurred with Muche’s interpretation of the word.

The upshot: some 54 local laws prohibiting teen drinking parties were thrown out.

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 275 – Fixing the Loophole

It’s no secret that underage drinking is a bad idea. A larger percentage of young people who drink also drink and drive. Early alcohol use has been linked to other problems as well, and while discouraging adults from providing alcohol to minors won’t solve those problems completely, they might help to shift Wisconsin’s notorious drinking culture just a little.

Thus Wisconsin Assembly Bill 275 is now moving through the assembly. The bill would prohibit adults from hosting underage drinking parties – or indeed, any underage drinking – in their homes. Similar bills have failed before, but perhaps Wisconsinites are ready to tackle this issue and give their young people a safer start in life.