Liquor law loophole? FL lawmakers attempt to curb underage drinking

Local lawmakers are among behind new legislation

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - A group of Florida lawmakers is working to close a legal 'loophole' and hold adults accountable in the battle against the temptations and dangers of underage drinking.

Current state statute prohibits adults from providing alcohol to minor within a residence. The law does not specifically prohibit adults providing alcohol to minors in other locations, such as state parks or vacant lots.

"I think that it's ridiculous. It's absurd," said Kate Regalbuto, a Palm Beach County mother of two children. "That's the whole idea of not being able to drink when you're under 21," she said. "You shouldn't be able to do it anywhere."

That is why lawmakers from across the state are now working to strengthen the law that is already on the books. Rep. Patrick Rooney, a Republican from District 85, is a co-sponsor of the new bill. "This law will clarify that the parent or irresponsible adult is going to be in trouble for doing it," he said.

Some parents say that the 'loophole' should never have existed in the first place.

"To have such an open loophole seems ludicrous to me," said David Voellinger, a Palm Beach County father of two boys. "It shouldn't have been there in the first place."

Adults who have hosted parties where alcohol was served to minors have landed in trouble before.

In 2009, two Treasure Coast men were jailed after investigators say they allowed teens to drink alcohol at a party. Three of those teens died after crashing their Jeep into a front-end loader on Cove Road in Stuart.

In 2010 in Boca Raton, two parents were charged after hosting a party with hundreds of teens from American Heritage School.

Rooney and others say, the push to curb underage drinking should have a wider scope; impacting situations not only inside someone's home, but instead throughout the community.

If this legislation passes, adults who get caught hosting parties where alcohol is being served - inside or outside a home - would be charged with a misdemeanor offense and could face fines and possible jail time. The new rules, if approved, would take effect in October 2013.











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