New bill changes penalties for underage alcohol use

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LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – He saw the terrible effects of underage drinking when he was Eaton County sheriff but that has not kept Sen. Rick Jones from reforming the law punishing young violators.

Sen. Jones’ legislation, now on its way to Governor Snyder for his signature, makes the first offense for Minor in Possession of alcohol a civil fine instead of a misdemeanor.

‚ÄúThis is about fairness and smarter justice. It balances the need to deter young people from drinking with the understanding that kids make mistakes,” said Sen. Jones.

Under the bill the first violation by a person under age 21 for purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol or having any bodily alcohol content would be a civil infraction of $100.

Currently the penalty for a first offense is a misdemeanor that can stay on an offender’s record for life.

In Sen. Jones’ bill there are increasing penalties for repeat offenders.

Repeat offenses would remain misdemeanors.

A second offense could be punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $200 fine. Additional offenses would increase to up to 60 days in jail and $500 fines.

The Senate version of the bill was approved Tuesday by the House of Representatives.

_________________ONLINE:Senate Bill 332

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