After hearing a request to approve “Social Host Ordinance” aimed at curbing under age use of alcohol and other drugs, the Vinton City Council agreed to “tweak” the ordinance before considering approving it.

ASAC Prevention Specialist David Condry and members of the Benton County Above the Influence Coalition have been urging county and city officials to approve the measure, which creates a civil penalty for those who knowingly allow their property to be used as sites for under age drinking or drug use.

The ordinance, which has been adopted by the Benton County Board of Supervisors and the Shellsburg City Council, would assess a fine of $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense for those who “knowingly” allow or permit their property to be a site where alcohol or drugs are used by those under age, whether or not those adults are present or not.

The ordinance makes an exception to permit parents to allow their own children to drink in their home, in their presence.

Council member Bud Maynard said he believed the ordinance was too vague; Council member Dave Redlinger agreed, asking Condry if the council could “tweak it.”

The council tabled the ordinance; its Public Safety Committee will discuss it at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, along with the police chief and city attorney.

Condry and community member Peter Shaw told the council that the ordinance has been shown to significantly reduce incidents of under-age drinking. While the State Legislature is considering a similar law for all of Iowa, that law would only apply to alcohol, and not illegal substances, Condry told the city council.

The Social Host rule differs from current laws prohibiting providing alcohol to persons under age in that it only provides civil penalties (fines) and not criminal charges.

Condry explained that while the criminal statute targets those who provide the alcohol, the ordinance targets those who provide teens a place to use it.

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