Bill would subject underage drinkers to stiff fine
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new bill designed to curb underage drinking would create an additional $1,000 fine for those under age 21 who buy or drink alcohol.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported the "Brown Jug bill" would allow owners of bars or other places that sell alcohol to take underage drinkers to court if they knowingly purchase alcohol from their businesses. If guilty, the underage drinker would have to pay the fine to the business.
Sen. Rick Gudex, R-Fond du Lac, said technology has made it easier to make fake identification cards, so many small businesses are spending more to check IDs.
"I think this is a good way to ward off society's problem with alcohol," said Gudex, the bill's main sponsor. "We are trying to put up some road blocks so they think twice before they do this."
Several groups, including the Tavern League of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Grocers Association, support the bill.
Several others oppose it, including the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, which said underage drinkers are already subject to a fine ranging from $250 to $1,000 for violating state law.
"There are already substantial penalties in place for underage drinking," the group said in a statement. "It is the responsibility of a licensed establishment selling a regulated substance to make sure of ages in their sales. If they are unable to do so, the license should be withdrawn."
The bill is scheduled for a hearing at 1 p.m. Thursday before the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee.
The bill is named after an Alaskan bar that had a similar law passed.