Maryville, Missouri, Changes Law to Prevent Underage Drinking

A Missouri town has raised the entry age to local bars from 19 to 21. The change in Maryville came after a large debate in the town’s City Hall, during which students and residents opposed the change for a variety of reasons. The new ordinance, passed on Jan. 27, will officially raise the entry age to 21 after July 1; after that point, underage students will have to find other entertainment opportunities.

The council had previously issued a ruling about the ordinance in May 2013, but this decision reversed that mandate. Legislators said they are concerned about drunk driving charges and other underage drinking consequences. Further, they argue that a nationwide trend is identifying underage drinking as a significant health problem. Science provides some evidence that this is the case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that drinkers ages 11 to 20 consume more than 10 percent of the alcohol in the nation. Minors, including college students, accounted for about 189,000 emergency room visits related to alcohol.

The change to the entry age is just one part of a proposed comprehensive alcohol approach that would change a variety of drinking laws in the area. Proposals have been submitted for regulating drink specials and requiring server training in bars. Noise-restriction ordinances are also included in that package of legislation.

Students and business owners alike are incensed about the change. Business representatives in the area say that underage drinking is effectively policed within the bars themselves. It is not clear whether the new ordinance will have a significant impact on business growth in the area. Some argue that students will still drink, but they will do so in more dangerous locations. Those who face underage drinking charges in any context may be subject to consequences. A qualified DUI attorney in Missouri can help these individuals learn more about their legal rights.

Source: Northwest Missourian, “Council bans minors from Maryville bars” Brandon Zenner, Feb. 03, 2014