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Social host ordinance has already led to charges

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news Rosemount, 55024
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Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

The Rosemount City Council just passed its social host ordinance in December, but two individuals have already been charged.

Police have ticketed a male minor who hosted a party with alcohol while his parents were away and an adult woman who had minors drinking at her home.

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In both cases it would have been difficult for police to prove who provided the alcohol to the minors. However the ordinance gave police the power to still charge the offending hosts, said police chief Gary Kalstabakken.

"It does help us," said Kalstabakken. "(The ordinance) gives us one more tool to use."

The ordinance makes it a criminal offense for a person to knowingly host a gathering or event where underage people are consuming alcohol. With the new ordinance, police won't have to determine who provided the alcohol, just that the host knew that underage drinking was occurring at the home. The two who have been caught hosting underage drinking parties were charged with a misdemeanor. Punishment can include up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

In addition to being able to charge the hosts, Kalstabakken said he hopes the word will spread and that the ordinance will help deter underage drinking. At the very least he believes it will make people think twice before hosting an underage drinking party.

"I think the word will spread and the parties will be smaller and more controlled," said Kalstabakken.

Discouraging underage drinking is why Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Dakota County supports the social host ordinance and presented the city with a certificate during the April 7 city council meeting. Rosemount is one of four cities in Dakota County that has passed a social host ordinance. The other cities are Apple Valley, Lakeville and South St. Paul.

MADD member Jo Baker said the group honored Rosemount for making the effort to deter and educate youth about the dangers of drinking. While MADD focuses on the dangers of drinking and driving, the group recognizes that to stop the act from occurring takes a broad approach.

"It's a real honor to recognize a city that steps up to the plate," said Baker.

Baker said the ordinance is a "working tool" that will help deter youth drinking and the consequences that can follow.

"It's one extra step we have to work with," added Baker.

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