Saratoga County

Mechanicville City Council delays ‘social host’ vote

The City Council has delayed voting on a new “social host” law until next month because council memb

The City Council has delayed voting on a new “social host” law until next month because council members are not sure the public hearing for the proposed law change was properly advertised.

Accounts Commissioner Mark Seber asked Wednesday night that action on the new law be tabled until the first meeting in June.

“There’s some confusion,” Seber said. “If there’s a change in law, especially something of that significance, I think we have to dot our i’s and cross our t’s.”

The proposed law would crack down on any adult who knew or should have reasonably known that underage drinking was taking place on his property but allowed it anyway.

Adults charged under the proposed law would face a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 20 days in jail.

City Attorney Val Serbalik said that violations of the social host law would be a misdemeanor and a crime, as opposed to a violation.

The City Council now plans to vote on the proposed law on June 4. Council members have said that they support the measure.

Police Chief Joseph Waldron said, “If a parent has knowledge and is aware that the party is taking place, they can’t just go in their bedroom and shut the door.”

Waldron said the law would emphasize to parents that allowing underage drinking is not acceptable.

“If they’re in your house and they’re having this party, there has to be some level where the parent is aware of this,” he said. “Open your eyes and see what the children are doing.”

Mechanicville police said that they cited about 20 people between the ages of 15 and 20 for underage drinking in 2007.

Another 10 under the age of 15 were referred to probation or back to their parents after being caught drinking last year.

Earlier this year, city police cited 25 youths and young adults with underage drinking after a neighbor complained about a party. The partiers that night ranged in age from 16 to 20.

Waldron said that underage drinking can lead to negative consequences such as drug use and sexual aggression.

He said it’s not enough for parents to just take their teenager’s car keys and allow them to drink at home.

“This is a no-brainer,” Waldron said. “You should not be drinking under the age of 21, period.”

Similar social host laws have been passed or considered in other local areas such as Stillwater, Niskayuna, Gloversville and Johnstown.

Categories: Schenectady County

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