Lower Conviction Rates Could Result from Looser Alcohol Rules

Two years of debates and several votes have led officials in one Missouri town to lower the age limit for entering a bar. The city council in Maryville has decided to allow 19- and 20-year-old residents into the city’s drinking establishments, although a panel of restrictions would be in place. Bar owners will be allowed to determine whether the younger individuals enter their facilities. The council had enacted an ordinance in January to raise the admission age to 21; that rule would have gone into effect in July.

The council has also effectively rejected proposed measures that may have led to higher alcohol-related conviction rates for young people. The officials rejected a measure that would have imposed looser restrictions on police officers who are sent to break up house parties that are being held on private property. Further, a measure that would have made it illegal to possess an open container of alcohol in public was also rejected.

News reports show that the three ordinances listed were part of a full-on political policy movement to limit underage drinking in Maryville. Although these restrictions had been seriously considered or passed by a previous group, two new council members joined the governing body in April. Both of those politicians were vocal about the fact that they did not want to raise the bar entrance age to 21.

Ultimately, 19- and 20-year-old bar patrons are only violating the law if they engage in underage drinking. It is possible for a bar to keep close watch on its visitors — or it could choose to restrict entrance to those who are old enough to imbibe. Council members clearly are not worried about rises in the numbers of students charged with drunk driving, for example, so existing legislation was reinstated.

Despite these looser mandates, it is still possible for young people to face alcohol-related charges for violations. To avoid a potential impact on their professional future, such students are urged to consider enlisting the help of a legal professional.

Source: The Kansas City Star, “Maryville changes bar age limit again” No author given, Jun. 10, 2014

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