FLINT TWP. — Questions raised during public comment at the township board meeting earlier this month delayed the second reading and adoption of an ordinance amendment pertaining to minors purchasing, consuming, possessing or transporting alcohol (MIP).
One question raised was about adding language penalizing parents for actions of their underage children in possession of alcohol. Another question addressed holding liquor sellers accountable for selling to minors.
Clerk Kathy Funk said she consulted with township attorney Peter Goodstein on both questions. In the case of holding parents accountable, Funk said that hinges on the definition of a minor as anyone under age 21. But 18 is the age of emancipation when many underage drinkers are no longer under their parents’ roof or authority. Goodstein noted the example of a 19-year-old in the military who gets caught underage drinking while home on leave. It would not be feasible to hold parents accountable in a case like that.
Goodstein also noted that the state of Michigan controls alcohol sales by stores and restaurants. He gave the example of the former Bennigan’s restaurant which was found in violation of serving minors. The remedy was that everyone ordering liquor in the establishment was carded regardless of age.
With those questions answered, the board unanimously approved the amendment to the ordinance.
Funk said the purpose of the amendment was to update the township’s MIP ordinance to reflect changes made in state law.
The ordinance references MCL[PG1] 436.1703 of the Michigan Liquor Control Code of 1998.
The township minor in possession amendment sets forth terms for violations. For the first violation, the minor is responsible for a municipal civil infraction and a fine of up to $100. He or she also might be subject to a court order to participate in substance abuse services.
For a second violation, the minor would be charged with a misdemeanor which is punishable by imprisonment for up to 30 days if the court finds that the minor violated an order of probation, failed to successfully complete any treatment, screening, or community service ordered by the court, or failed to pay fines for that conviction or juvenile adjudication, by a fine of not more than $200.00, or both. A court also may order the minor to participate in substance use disorder services, to perform community service, and to undergo substance abuse screening and assessment at his or her own expense.
A third offense also would be charged as misdemeanor but punishable by imprisonment for up to 60 and a fine of up to $500, based on court findings same as those under the second offense.
Using a fake identification to obtain alcohol also is covered. The ordinance states that an individual who furnishes fraudulent identification to a minor or a minor who uses fraudulent identification to purchase alcoholic liquor, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 93 days or a fine of up to $100.00, or both.
Provisions for a one-time probationary exception is also spelled out and the full terms are posted on the township website at www.flinttownship.org.