Open Containers, Curfew, on Jefferson County Council Radar
Council seeks put on two draft proposals.
The Jefferson County Councill will be debating two draft proposals in the coming weeks that will establish a curfew and will plug a gap in state law that allows open alcohol containers in public.
Renee Reuter, (R-2nd District) is seeking citizen input and suggestions on the two proposals in advance of any action by the council.
The proposal to establish a curfew for teenagers under 17 comes via discussions from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department to provide another tool for law enforcement to keep kids safe in the cummunity. If approved, there would be either an 11 p.m. or a midnight curfew established. The uncertain nature of the time is a response to discussions among council members about whether 11 p.m. or midnight is a reasonable time to establish a curfew.
There currently is no curfew in Jefferson County.
Under the terms of the curfew law draft, those under 17 would be prohibited from being in a public place after the curfew time unless accompanied by an adould and/or has written parental permission. In addition, there would not be a curfew applied to those who are coming from or going to work, or any school, government or religious-oriented activity.
The impetus behind the open container proposal is to plug a gap in state law.
According to state statutes:
No county or municipality, except as provided in section may adopt or enforce a law, rule or ordinance which authorizes or requires arrest or punishment for public intoxication or being a common or habitual drunkard or alcoholic. No county or municipality may interpret or apply any law or ordinance to circumvent the provisions of this section.
Although the proposed Jefferson County ordinance does not address public drunkeness, it instead outlines restrictions on having open containers of alcohol in public or in vehicles where the driver has access to the container.
According to the Jefferson County draft proposal: "No person shall transport, carry, possess or have, and no driver shall permit the transporting, carrying, possessing or having, of any open container of alcohol within the passenger area of any motor vehicle which is being operated upon a public way or parked in any public or semipublic parking facility.
The draft proposal also address open container possession in public places: It shall be unlawful for any person to have in his or her possession any alcoholic beverages in any open container while in public within the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County.
"In public" would include streets, alleyways, sidewalks or other public right-of-ways. There would be an exemption for outdoor dining areas at restaurants and at such civic events as local fairs and festivals, as long as the alcohol being consumed was purchased at the civic event.
There also is an exemption in the proposed law for so-called party buses, as long as any open containers are not within the reach of the driver of the vehicle.
So what do you think? Please take a minute to fill out our poll on the curfew and open container proposals and leave a comment about these ideas, especially if you have an idea about improvements to the draft laws.