An ordinance designed to potentially reduce underage drinking in Waltham received local television media coverage this week. In case you missed it, please click here to view WBZ-TV's video news clip or here to view the Channel 7 News article and a link to its video clip.
A public hearing on the proposed ordinance was held at the City Council meeting on August 3rd. The proposal was sent to the Ordinance and Rules Committee and then to the Law Department for review.
This progressive ordinance is the result of efforts by me, Councilor Brasco, Waltham Police Lt. Steve Champeon, Waltham Licensing Commissioner Wayne Brasco, local businessman Tom Williams and Brad Krevor, former Brandeis University professor.
This proposal sends the strong message that underage drinking is not okay and will not be tolerated in our city. This ordinance follows the Waltham Retailer's "Incentive Model" to deter underage and third-party alcohol purchases. The ordinance would:
• Establish a non-criminal penalty of $300 for minors caught drinking or trying to buy alcohol.
• Notify the violator's parent or guardian of the $300 fine and require the violator to complete an alcohol awareness program.
• Fine people who buy alcohol for minors, as well as minors who try to buy alcohol with fake IDs, lie about their age or make arrangements to buy alcohol.
The success of the ordinance, if passed, would be dependant on Waltham store clerks, servers and/or bartenders who will need to carefully observe every transaction involving the sale of alcohol. To encourage participation, the proposal will offer store clerks $20 awards for confiscating fake IDs. If the violator is found guilty after a hearing, the clerk could receive an additional $180.
Underage drinkers need to be held accountable for their actions. While the ordinance does not involve a criminal charge, we hope the fine and required participation in an alcohol awareness class will make teens and those under 21 think twice before drinking or trying to obtain alcohol. If passed, the ordinance will result in a safer community for all and a healthier group of Waltham youth.
Rep. Thomas Stanley, D-Waltham, is also a city councilor.