Senate scrutinizes teenage drinking

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:35 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Teens could lose their driver’s licenses or possibly a spot on the football team if they’re caught drinking alcohol, under legislation that won initial Senate approval Tuesday.

The measure by Senate President Pro Tem Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, includes many deterrents to teenage drinking.

Under the measure, school districts must establish a policy for punishing students who drink on or off school property. Details would be up to each district but could include revoking student out-of-school privileges such as participating in sports or theater activities.

The Senate narrowly passed an amendment that would prevent minors under the age of 16 who are convicted of alcohol possession from obtaining their driver’s licenses until they turn 18. The bill also calls for teens’ driver’s licenses to be suspended after a first alcohol possession offense.

People who are 16-21 with traffic-related alcohol offenseswould have their licenses suspended for two years for a first offense and four years for a second offense.

Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said the bill went too far.

“We do have to strike a balance. I’ve got a couple concerns that that balance may be skewed to a prohibition level,” he said.

People who knowingly allow minors to drink on their property would face a misdemeanor charge under the legislation.

Parents who allow their children to drink would continue to be exempt from prosecution, allowing leeway for traditions where children might have a bit of wine, he said.

The bill would also expand the minor-in-possession language to include minors who are visibly intoxicated or have a detectable blood alcohol content.

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