Missoula City Councilman Dave Strohmaier is again proposing an ordinance sure to raise eyebrows among civil libertarians. The two-term councilman says he plans on unveiling next week a citywide law that, if it passes, would empower law enforcement to fine adults who host events that involve underage drinking.
“I’m finalizing a draft right now,” says Strohmaier, who’s proposing a $500 fine for the first violation of the “social host ordinance.” Two-time offenders would be sentenced to two days in jail.
“I have that there to send a clear message,” he says.
Missoula has one of the highest underage drinking rates in the nation. Strohmaier says the ordinance constitutes an effort to curb drinking among young adults and specifically to cut down on incidents of driving under the influence.
“It’s a very real problem for our community,” says Strohmaier, who has also tackled topics like texting while driving, refusing DUI tests and LGBT discrimination.
His new proposal aims to punish adults who host underage parties, rather than parents sharing a glass of wine with a teenager over dinner. Strohmaier says the latter is protected under state law. “The applicability is fairly narrow,” he says.
The councilman aims to unveil the draft ordinance next week during a Public Safety & Health Committee meeting.
"We’ll run it up the flagpole and see what folks have to say,” he says.