Bill Would Make Giving Alcohol To A Minor A Felony For Those Over 21 Years Old

356950200-02053410

HB1458, introduced by Rep. Chuck Damschen (who introduced legislation to ban tailgating during the last legislative session) has a bill that would make it a Class C Felony for anyone over the age of 21 to provide alcohol to a minor.

There are a number of problems with this bill.

First, I’m not sure that contributing alcohol to a minor should rise to a level of a felony. Frankly, I think our anti-drinking laws are too puritanical as is. If anything, I think parents ought to have some leeway to help their children develop a healthy relationship with alcohol before they’re adults. Letting the kids have a few glasses of wine, or a few beers, in a controlled setting with mom and dad would be better than having a kid’s first exposure to alcohol be at some unsupervised house party, or when they’re 21 and living on their own for the first time.

A lot of parents are already doing this, despite the law. We’re now going to make those parents felons? Let’s be serious.

Second, while the law gives some leeway for private citizens by only criminalizing the “knowing” delivery of alcohol to minors, employees of liquor stores or bars get no such leeway. The word “knowingly” is not in existing law for employees of licensed liquor establishments, nor is it added in this bill raising the penalty to a felony.

Which means that a kid with a really convincing fake ID who manages to slip into a bar, or make a purchase at a liquor store, while fooling the employees there is making those employees guilty of a felony punishable by “for which a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, a fine of five thousand dollars, or both, may be imposed.”

That is punishment far in excess of the seriousness of the crime.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

Related posts

  • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

    How much will the “unintended consequences” of this cost?

    • SusanBeehler

      Probably a gun or two.

      • schreib

        Oh brother–spoken like an obama loving democrat

    • schreib

      Yeah just like the badly worded one that passed on smoking. It is putting many businesses out of business or at least dropping their profits. It pretty much means prohibition on smoking.

  • Guest

    No, what a stupid law…most developed nations are far more lenient with underage drinking and have far less problems than us with binge drinking and alcoholism. Teach responsibility to kids, stop pushing increasingly ridiculous and arbitrary laws.

    • SusanBeehler

      Most nations do not have minors with the binge drinking problem like North Dakota has.

      • schreib

        Only north Dakota? Alcohol can be problematic everywhere. But we have more reservations here. That is not racist, it’s just a fact.

      • Guest

        Exactly so stop adopting government policies that encourage idiotic behavior.

        Your nanny state cannot make every decision for it’s children/citizens, and your constant surveillance has all kinds of negative unintended consequences.

        • SusanBeehler

          What idiotic behavior is encouraged with a harsher penalty under a existing law? What is the “unintended consequences”?
          So your thinking less laws makes better decision making citizens? Do you think children with less rules are more well behaved? Do you think more booze makes less booze related accidents, deaths?

          • Guest

            You can’t make a rule for everything. Maybe we wouldn’t binge drink as much if we were taught to use alcohol responsibly at younger ages like they do in other cultures. In most of Europe if you get drunk and do stupid things it is frowned upon because they have been taught to be responsible with it; in our culture the prohibitionists like yourself have created an environment where young people go crazy and binge drinking behaviors are encouraged. Beyond that why make stupid laws that people won’t follow. Drinking is not a big deal if it is done in moderation, and nobody cares if college students drink alcohol. When you make a rule for everything makes people more likely to disobey the law when they don’t see a purpose for the laws, and your system creates an environment where people don’t respect the law anymore (an underming of rule of law). STOP!!!

  • headward

    Maybe we should look at other states where underage drinking is less. They usually have alcohol sold with other goods. The issue is that we’re making it a taboo for the teens to get it. This bill would only make it worse and a black market larger.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      The issue is that we’re making it a taboo for the teens to get it. This bill would only make it worse and a black market larger.

      Exactly.

      • SusanBeehler

        Taboo? it has always been 21.

      • SusanBeehler

        This bill is not a good law. Everyone including law enforcement could be charged with a felony. I just came from the hearing. This bill would make those even serving alcohol in a bar/dining establishment during a compliance check possibly charged with a felony. If cops didn’t arrest someone if they “reasonable” thought they are giving alchol to a minor the officer could be charged with a felony if they didn’t arrest those who were thought have given them alchol. There is no wiggle room at all. The hearing is continued this afternoon after the legislative hearing.

    • Geoff Bosse

      Agree. Remember the “party patrol”? This is when there was a group of cops specifically detailed to bust up parties. When this was going on, parties of 3-5 people having beers were getting arrested so we had to find a new way to party. Me and friends started “Booze cruising”. Instead of hanging with buddies we got loaded and took to the gravel roads. My point is like Rob’s, learn to drink responsibly, you will never be able to stop minors from drinking

      • SusanBeehler

        SADD in schools has been effective in giving responsible minors other options. Under age drinking is not responsible drinking. You can make it more difficult for them to drink and you can show them their really is other ways to have fun, but that does require some effort on the parents part.

        • schreib

          I am sorry, but arresting 20 year olds for having a beer on a hot day when they can vote, die for their country, enter into legal contracts, marry and can even be sentenced to death for crimes is rediculous. They are not kids. The easiest place to get alcohol is on our college campuses.

          • seejai

            agreed, I basically just posted that exact thing, hah.

        • schreib

          SADD was a a good idea at first, but now they are outright prohibitionists.

    • schreib

      In Wisconsin, those under 21 may be served alcohol with a meal if their parents are present.

      • SusanBeehler

        And Wisconsin has alot of drunks. Actually their state fair among vendors of fairs is known to be the most “drunk” fair.

        • schreib

          I don’t think that that would be a problem in a restaraunt with your parents. Drinking on your own is 21.

        • schreib

          I was born in Wisconsin and spent much time there. No, the place is not full of drunks. The state is pretty tough on drunk driving.

          • SusanBeehler

            So what is the punishment for first offense

          • schreib

            tougher than ND I believe. But they do believe in redemption. Repeat offenders like my cousin have spent years in jail. Some SADD Think they should be hung, drawn, and quartered.

          • SusanBeehler

            It was their choice to get behind the wheel, I am with SADD and MADD except I don’t believe in the “hung,drawn and quartered”.

          • schreib

            I used to support them, but now they just turn me off as they have become extreme in their thinking. They remind me of Carrie Nation who used to go into bars with a hatchet and bust up the place.

          • SusanBeehler

            SADD is a student organization in schools, MADD I have never heard of them doing such things, but then I am not active in either anymore. It seems like groups sometimes do become extreme, just like politics.

        • Lianne

          says who. geez, Susan, you throw out so many nonsenscial, undocumented rambling arguments that the deserve no more than an eye roll. Why don’t you wrtie your EO listing all the behaviors you want implemented or irradicated and then we can refer to that when we are so inclined?
          Personally, I don’t care at what age anyone drinks. I just don’t want anyone on the road driving drunk or high.

  • yy4u2

    What? A felony? Did the nanny statists run out of ideas to funnel money to those they perceive as poor?

    • WOOF

      Repesentative Chuck Damschen,
      Deacon of the Zoar Lutheran Church
      will pray for you and see you receive
      the maximum sentence when your heathen
      asz is convicted.

      • http://nofreelunch.areavoices.com/ Kevin Flanagan

        How much did his church pay in taxes?

  • ec99

    This, like many other inane bills introduced over the years, is the consequence of electing representatives whose only qualification is the free time to go to Bismarck.

  • SusanBeehler

    I don’t like parents giving their children booze especially if my child is around. I know this is an “entitled” practice at the Minot State Fair , but I think it should be at least address, by local enforcement. Underage in North Dakota is a problem and so are some of the adults contributing to it. I don’t know if this bill is the answer

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      It’s exactly this puritnical attitude that exacerbates alcohol problems.

      • SusanBeehler

        Is that kind of like saying “they are driving me to drink” . Anyone who thinks a parent giving their child booze is okay that is not puritanical thinking nor is it parental thinking.

        • schreib

          I think you should admit that you don’t believe in alcohol at all. Are you a member of the womens christian temperance union??

          • SusanBeehler

            I believe in “recreational” drinking, you don’t work 13 years in the hospitality industry and not have dabbled in the “spirits”. Actually I am named after my Great Aunt Susie, a Methodist preacher in South Heart ND who was very active in the Temperance movement, maybe some things are passed down to another generation. I believe every child deserves the chance to make lifestyle choices without it being clouded by those under the influence. I want them to know the consequences physically and mentally and not do it because binge drinking is socially acceptable in North Dakota.

          • schreib

            Well, Methodists used to be known as “tea totalers”. My grandmother used to make her own beer and then joined the temperance union

    • ec99

      You’re loading the dice by using the term “booze,” as if parnets were pouring Jack Daniels shooters for their five year-olds. As for the age of 21, it dates back to the 1300s when it was considered the age at which one could become an independent monarch without the need for regent advisors. This eventually led to its use as the age of adulthood. Of course, we continue to observe all other customs of the 1300s.

      • SusanBeehler

        Did you have a nip, “parnets”? Did you ever hear of child abuse? I know of parents who were such drunks they put booze in the baby bottle. If you don’t like the age 21 get it changed.

        • ec99

          ” you never which one of your “kids” could end up being afflicted with it.”
          Guess that makes two of us.

        • schreib

          Rubbing whiskey on the gums of a teething baby is a tried and true home remedy

          • SusanBeehler

            We can buy products over the counter that work much better.

          • ec99

            Over 30 years ago our pediatrician warned that products like Numzit if swallowed could paralyze the throat and cause choking. We always used brandy on the gums after that.

          • SusanBeehler

            I had a child over 30 years ago and never heard such a thing, maybe you had a backwoods doc.

          • ec99

            Well that cinches it, huh? If you never heard of it it must be urban legend.

          • SusanBeehler

            I admit I had never heard of this and I never did use Numzit, I used chilled teeting rings or a little Anbesol. This is what one doctor had to say: “although past generations of parents have used brandy or whiskey to soothe teething pain, no amount of alcohol is thought to be safe for infants so resist any urges you may have to follow in that tradition.” Personally I would be more worried about the baby getting intoxicated because it is much easier to ingest the whiskey. They may calm down, but it might not have numbed it but depressed the babies nervous system with the whiskey or brandy. This is why they are now recommending to not give alot of medicinal products to those under two. They use to use cocaine for home remedies too, we now know that is not a very good idea either.

          • schreib

            UHM, Susan , you only put a drop of whiskey or brandy on your finger and rub it on the baby’s gums. I don’t think there would be enough for the child to digest. The alcohol numbs the gums. And this treatment has been used for hundreds of years. NO good parent would ever give a baby alcohol to drink, as that would be abuse.

  • Clairvoyant

    Let the toothless hicks give their grade schoolers beer if they wish. They can grow up just like Dad (“Mommy, is Dad coming home from the bar after I am bed again”?)

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      That’s just stupid. You can have aheqlthy relationship with alcohol, and pass that on to your kids, without being a “toothless hick”

      • SusanBeehler

        Alcoholism can also be passed down, you never know which one of your “kids” could end up being afflicted with it.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          If what you’re looking for is utopia, Susan, you’re never going to find it. Alcoholism is going to exist whether we have an age-21 drinking law or not.

          What we can do is give parents the flexibility to teach their kids how to handle alcohol responsibly while they’re still living at home.

          And yes, I recognize that not all parents make good decisions in this regard, but so what? Not all parents are good parents. Should we crack down on the good ones because some are bad?

          • SusanBeehler

            I am not looking for utopia but I am looking for my child to be protected from the other “good”,”not so good” or “bad” parent. Your idea of teaching “how to handle” alcohol responsibly may differ greatly from mine or the neighbors. We need to model being a good citizen and to me part of that is following the law. The law is the starting point of responsibility. The law in North Dakota for as long as I can remember has been 21, if as parents we don’t like the law than go lobby to change it.

          • schreib

            No , it was 18 when I was 18. States changed it because they were strong armed by the feds for highway money.

          • SusanBeehler

            Not in North Dakota.

          • Waski_the_Squirrel

            I learned about this from one of my older colleagues. She graduated from the school where I teach. She recalls driving with her friends over the border to South Dakota, getting a drink at the bar, and coming back for afternoon classes, all over lunch hour. It was legal back then in South Dakota to drink at 18, but not in North Dakota.

          • SusanBeehler

            I am “older” too. I think it was in the 70’s it was legal for a short period of time in Montana also. I don’t really remember for sure but I think they had what they called a 3.2 beer for the younger than 21 group, most of the states which had this lower age raised the age back to 21 because of the social problems associated with the younger age.

          • schreib

            Then our adult 18 year olds plus will continue driving to Canada where they can enjoy and spend their money there.

          • SusanBeehler

            So, you want a law to prevent 18 years olds going to Canada? You sound like you have no control over choosing or not choosing to drink. It is a choice, if it is against the law, then you are choosing to break the law. Go find something else to do. Are you a slave to only one type of recreation? Endorphins can flow without drinking, you just have to find the activity.

          • schreib

            It would be illegal to prevent adult passport carrying adults to drive to Canada. Canada welcomes visitors. There is a lot to do in Winnipeg besides drink. But you can order a nice meal and have a beer or glass of wine with it.

          • SusanBeehler

            The trouble with many drinkers especially young ones it isn’t just one beer or glass of wine. The reason a few are dying from the high caffeine drinks they think it is safe they drink, tastes good or feels good drink some more and than don’t find out until they are dead they drink too much.

          • schreib

            And I know people over 18 who drive over the border into Canada where it is legal. Winnipeg is full of North Dakota “tourists” so they can enjoy a drink that they can’t have here.

          • Waski_the_Squirrel

            I’ve seen that. I used to teach in a town 6 miles south of the Canadian border. This was very common with our seniors. Of course, the town was far enough from the nearest Canadian bar that kids couldn’t run up over lunch.

          • SusanBeehler

            The problem is these young people feel they are invincible, they are much willing to take risks, you mix this youth characteristic with booze and you have many taking even more risks, and they end up doing things which never even get them to the age 21. I rather see the age raised for the legal things mentioned such as the military and legal contracts than have the age lowered for drinking.

          • Lianne

            Well, the legal age for marriage, contracts, military,etc should be 26 if we are to follow Obamacare.

          • schreib

            Well it was 18 in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Wisconsin did have 3.2 beer, but it was nothing but water. Yuck. But then I prefer wine.

          • Lianne

            Only YOU are responsible for teaching your child the behaviors you want them to have. Parenting should NOT be the responsibility of the government.

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I trust the people to be free.

            You don’t.

      • Clairvoyant

        Yeah, just don’t let the nanny state tell me that I can’t drive after I’ve had only 9. I can hold my beer just fine.

  • Jeremiah Glosenger

    The healthiest relationship you can have with alcohol or any other drug is abstaining from it.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      We tried that, prohibition doesn’t work.

      • SusanBeehler

        You may want to take a different history lesson. Alcohol consumption was greatly reduced per capita. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470475/

        • schreib

          Read your history. Organized crime greatly increased. Most folks found a way to get it. Many made their own wine or beer. And some of the best moonshine is still made in the driest parts of North Carolina.

        • schreib

          Because, during the depression, folks didn’t have the money to buy food let alone liquour. The birth rate dropped too.

      • Lianne

        Rob, I may be assuming here, but I don’t think he was referring to ‘other controlled’ restraining of a behavior which is what prohibiton is. I believe he was refering to self- control over such behaviors.

      • Jeremiah Glosenger

        My comment was about health, not prohibition.

  • schreib

    Our country has one of the highest legal drinking ages in the world. When I turned 21 back in ’78, I had already been working as a nurse for 2 years. I was caring for very sick people and I was authorized to dispense narcotics to patients with a doctors order. But it was legal back then for folks my age to drink. I think we need to use a little common sense. Keeping alcohol totally out of peoples hands until they are 21 is naive and impractical. The 21 year old drinking law is the one most broken. One can make their own wine too, if you don’t mind waiting 4 weeks til it’s done.

    • headward

      I don’t get a country where you can vote the most powerful man in the free world then die for your country but still cannot legally drink. The government can draft you into the military at 18 – you should be granted all the other rights of the other citizens as well.

      • SusanBeehler

        If you don’t like it change it

        • headward

          I would if I could but I can’t. The age is also tied with the federal transportation funds. States can make it any age they want but if they drop below 21 they lose 10% of the funding for roads(which doesn’t make any sense). This just like the seat belt law is federal blackmail.

          • SusanBeehler

            Why can’t you? You may look at it as federal blackmail, but you could look at as an incentive to have a desired behavior. If our state is all about having the federal government out of our lives then don’t take the funding. http://sayanythingblog.com/entry/nd-law-enforcement-drops-opposition-to-bill-preventing-enforcement-of-new-federal-gun-control-laws/
            Attaching the age to highway fund makes sense to me because if you look at the ND attorney general report on crime most crimes of violence happen on highways and many times alcohol is a contributing factor to accidents and crime. Really, the seat belt law bugs you? The seat belt buzzer/alarms in the car bugs me more than any law about seat belts.

          • headward

            Seat belt laws don’t make sense. The government isn’t there to protect you from yourself. Personal freedom is choice. Promoting safety should require us to wear helmets while driving cars. There is no helmet law for motorcycles.

            Most violence happens on highways? I don’t remember ND highways having fight clubs or just random assaults. Alcohol isn’t the contributing factor to this sort of violence that doesn’t happen. Should the federal government be dictating social behavior for states? How would you feel if the federal government decided to reduce the Medicaid payments by 10% if a state allows same sex marriage on grounds of public safety, increase of child abuse, and disease transfer?

          • ec99

            The sole purpose of seatbelt laws is to bring cash into the coffers.

    • SusanBeehler

      If you don’t like it change it.

  • schreib

    It’s obvious that Susan doesn’t like alcohol at all. She would be happy with prohibition. All prohibition did was encourage a black market and organized crime. Alcohol should be given at home and young people should be taught to be responsible. In European countrys, wine is legal at age 16 and hard liquor at 18. Having a 21 age is the most difficult to enforce. It is not hard to get it. When I grew up, I was allowed wine after the age of 13–when I was confirmed, for special occasions like Christmas. But my parents were present and food was served and I was only allowed a small amount. My parents taught me that I must be responsible and that it must be taken in moderation.

    • SusanBeehler

      Because I don’t want those under the legal age to drink? Alcohol should not be given to minors.

      • ec99

        Problem is, there are minors and there are minors. What is the age to vote, make a legal contract, inherit an estate without a custodian, be tried as an adult?

        • SusanBeehler

          All of these things are done while not “under the influence”. Many 18 and 19 year olds are still in high school. If you don’t like the age get it changed. Personally I think weed would probably get legalized before the age to drink would be lowered.

          • schreib

            The age should be lowered to 19.

          • SusanBeehler

            Go for it, we have a problem in our state, drinking starts at around the age 12, see if you could legislation passed but I believe it would be as hard to pass as prohibition would be to pass.

          • schreib

            19 is not unreasonable. It is 21 now and you still say that drinking is a problem. Some cultures embrace drinking more than others. Some faiths totally reject drinking of any kind. It needs to begin with educating our kids on the pleasures and the responsibilities of drinking and their responsibility towards others as regards their actions. If we try and keep alcohol totally away from them (which never has and never will happen) they tend to drink and hide. If it is out in the open they tend to not have as risky behavior. The same thing is with the gun controllers. They are afraid of guns, but a gun will not jump up at you and shoot you. There needs to be an intelligent person behind the trigger.
            And one learns to shoot and be safe EARLY in life. Responsible drinking must be taught, lived and learned.

          • ec99

            “All of these things are done while not “under the influence”.”
            Not necessarily. The point is the government ascribes the rights and privileges of adulthood for certain things, yet drinking remains taboo.

          • SusanBeehler

            If you don’t like it, effect the change get your “committee” or group behind you and rally for it. All I can say is good luck! Even if everyone “does it”, most know “intoxication” means your body is reacting to “poison”, it is the amount of poison which is not always easy to determine to get the desired effect or you could die. Most even if they “do it” don’t want the society ills which can come from it. You would have to convince the voter the benefits of a lower age out way the consequences, I think it is a very tough sell.

          • schreib

            It needs to be changed

      • schreib

        A minor in legal terms is someone under the age of 18—not 19 or 20

        • SusanBeehler

          Not when you are talking drinking booze

      • schreib

        There needs to be exceptions.

  • schreib

    According to Susan, she wouldn’t even let her kids have communion in church- or anyone elses kids for that matter

    • SusanBeehler

      We use sparkling grape juice in the church I attend. Most kids at parties are not drinking wine actually I cannot remember ever hearing of children having wine purchased for a party. Beer is king! and than maybe some other bottled beverage but wine is not the drink of choice. I would not “party” with a group of children/minor and I certainly would not offer an illegal substance to any child/minor. I also would not teach a child/minor how to “smoke” responsibly.

  • schreib

    This stupid law would make almost ALL adults and parents felons. Most parents I know would never give alcohol to someone under 18 without parental permission like during a wedding or Christmas.

  • seejai

    I think it’s bogus I’m allowed to smoke, chew, get married, get divorced, get an abortion, go die in a war, etc., all at the tender age of 18, but I can’t have a drink?

    • SusanBeehler

      Don’t like it, change it

  • nodak401

    This is a genuinely stupid law.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I agree.

  • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

    Don’t make it a felony. Just pass a law stating that anyone who gives or sells alcohol to a minor takes equal responsibility for whatever legal or financial consequences might follow. It would be just like an extra parent…with an extra checkbook.

    If you don’t want to legally assume responsibility for his actions, don’t give him alcohol.

Top