The Jefferson Community Coalition is working to limit drug and alcohol use among teens in Jefferson County by educating adults about the consequences of procuring alcohol for minors.
Jeffrey Goltz, county attorney, explained that although the cases of procurement are not as common in Jefferson County, the penalties for procuring alcohol for minors can be hefty.
“Procuring is a class one misdemeanor that has a range of penalties upon conviction,” said Goltz. “You can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and assessed a $1,000 fine. There’s no minimum on either, and it can be a combination of those as well. You could also be placed on probation.”
Goltz noted that the statute dealing with procurement dates back to 1935 and has remained roughly the same since it was adopted. He noted that there are some common misconceptions when it comes to providing alcohol to minors.
“If you’re a parent, and you buy for your kids, or for a kid’s party as occasionally happens, your kid may escape liability because the law doesn’t proclude a juvenile from consuming alcohol in one’s own home,” Goltz said. “But that may not get people around the procuring statute, and it certainly wouldn’t get you around a party that you supply alcohol for. People think that doing that keeps kids off the streets and out of trouble, but there are often cases where people get picked up for doing exactly that. You don’t escape liability for hosting parties for kids. It doesn’t work that way; the law doesn’t recognize that as an exemption.”
Goltz continued by emphasizing that in the eyes of the law, it does not matter if a person is paid by a minor to procure alcohol, or if the alcohol is treated as a gift; either way, it is illegal. He noted that there are a number of incidents every year, though, as Sheriff Nels Sorensen noted, due to a variety of reasons, it is difficult to track the cases.
“Law enforcement can’t be everywhere,” said Goltz. “There have been a couple of cases this year when a couple of people procured alcohol for minors at a bonfire. Does this happen? I’m sure it does, but we can’t be everywhere.”
Goltz noted that it is important for people to stay in touch with law enforcement if they suspect someone is providing alcohol to minors because it can damage lives.