BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Kids caught drinking alcohol will get one more chance to avoid a criminal record come New Year’s Day in Michigan.
Clarkston City Council is looking to revise its local ordinances to reflect the new state law.
“The city’s minor in possession ordinance will become outdated on Jan. 1 – to use this offense, we need to make it a civil infraction to follow state law,” said city attorney Thomas Ryan at the Nov. 13 meeting, during first reading of the new ordinance. “Our hands are tied on this.”
The revised city Ordinance 133 on underage drinking of alcoholic beverages makes alcohol purchase, possession, and consumption by minors a civil infraction, like a traffic ticket, punishable to not more than a $100 fine for a first offense, with options for community service and treatment classes.
A second offense would be a misdemeanor, with imprisonment of up to 30 days, with treatment and community service and fine of up to $200. Third or more, up to 60 days and $500 fine. Fraudulent identification by a minor would remain a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or $100 fine.
The revised city law will allow the city to continue to write tickets for underage drinking, Ryan said.
Michigan Public Acts 357 and 358 of 2016 reduces punishment for first-time underage drinking from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction – $100 fine, community service, and classes. The current misdemeanor charge could mean 90 days in jail, along with $100 fine, community service, and classes.
Under the new law, a second MIP offense would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to a $200 fine, and a third offense would result in up to 60 days in jail and $500 fine. A third offense could also result in a revocation of the minor’s driver’s license.
The state passed the revision to decriminalizing first offenses for underage drinking and underage possession of alcohol, to avoid criminal stigmatization of young people, Ryan said.
If second reading is approved at the Nov. 27 meeting, the city ordinance revision would go into effect by Jan. 1.
BY PHIL CUSTODIO