Fond du Lac Underage Drinking Host Ordinance Overruled by State Court of Appeals

Posted at 5:29 PM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-27 18:34:26-04
A newly released Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision strikes down a Fond du Lac county ordinance that prevented adults from hosting underage drinking parties at their homes.
The decision was made Wednesday, but now Fond du Lac city leaders are speaking out about the decision.  
"Maybe you wind up having a couple kids get severely injured or killed coming from a party and then the legislators will go, we're going to have to change this," explained a frustrated Chief Deputy Mark Strand with the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Department.
The frustrating is stemming from the Court of Appeal's decision.  Originally people who hosted parties and had underage drinkers there were fined, but now that's not the case.
"Our goal is to have responsible drinking, social host falls into that it's a public health and safety issue," explained Drug Free Communities grant coordinator, Ellen Sorensen.
The change stems from a technicality around the word "premises".  According to Fond du Lac district attorney, Eric Toney.
He says in the law a premises is defined as an area described in a license or permit for the sale of alcoholic beverages.  That excludes a person's home, which is where most underage parties take place.
"Premise doesn't include private property, so for us to be able to take enforcement action we can't but we can still respond and handle it accordingly we just can't site the person on the spot," said Chief Deputy Strand.
Even though the decision has been handed down by the Court of Appeals the district attorney says that doesn't mean they can't do anything about it.
"We have a couple options in front of us right now.  one is to consider appealing the court's decision and asking the Supreme Court to look at it and we're keeping our options on the table.  We haven't made a decision on that," said Toney.
The second options is to get a legislator to change the law.  That's exactly what De Pere Republican Representative Andre Jacque is trying to do.
He's working to pass a bill that would redefine "premises" to include a person's home.