O'burg adopts anti-drinking law

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:53

    OGDENSBURG-It is now illegal in the borough for underage persons to drink alcohol on private property. At Monday's Borough Council meeting, Ogdensburg became the eighth municipality in Sussex County to adopt the ordinance that has been promoted by the Sussex County Coalition for Healthy and Safe Families. The two most recent towns to pass a similar law are Byram and Sparta. The ordinance calls for fines of $250 for the first offense and $350 for subsequent offenses. In addition, the violator's driver's license may be suspended for six months. Violators who are too young to have a license can be prevented from getting one until six months after they turn 17. The law makes three exceptions. One is for persons who consume alcohol as part of a religious observance, ceremony or rite. Another is for those "engaged in the performance of employment or while actively engaged in the preparation of food while enrolled in a culinary arts or hotel management program at a county vocational school or post secondary educational institution." And finally, persons may drink who have the permission of a parent, guardian or relative of legal age. In adopting the ordinance, the council said it was in the "best interest of the community at large." Police Chief George Lott, citing a desire to promote safe driving and discourage underage drinking, recommended passage of the law, which the families coalition has made a priority. When the council passed the measure, the coalition presented the borough with a "certificate of recognition." "It is a preventive tool to address underage drinking in the community," said Becky Carlson, coordinator of the coalition, who added that she expects Stanhope and Stillwater to adopt the same ordinance in the near future. The coalition has prepared a newsletter advising parents to tell their teens that drinking is "not a right of passage. Your first bicycle ride, your first day at kindergarten, your first prom, those are all rights of passage, but drinking isn't."