New Alcohol laws

 Uncategorized
Aug 212005
 
Authors: Chris Kampfe

A few more freshmen may be getting the door slammed in their faces as they try to get into keg parties this school year, as enforcement of House Bill 1183 goes into effect.

HB 1183 was proposed in part by Rep. Angie Paccione , D-Fort Collins, in the wake of the recent student alcohol-related deaths in Colorado.

The bill has a two-fold design, to stiffen penalties against those providing alcohol to minors and provide a "safe haven" for minors seeking medical assistance for those with potential alcohol poisoning.

The increased punishments for distributing to a minor were raised from a class two misdemeanor to a class one. The penalty for a class one misdemeanor includes six to 18 months imprisonment in a county jail or a fine of $500 to $5,000, or both, according to the language of the bill.

Rita Davis , public information officer for Fort Collins Police Services, said FCPS supports the concept of the bill.

"Certainly we're in support of the bill," Davis said. "And it doesn't change the way we do business."

The CSU Police Department also strongly supports the bill. Regarding the "safe haven" clause of the bill, Cpl. Yvonne Paez commented, "Although we've never been in the business of penalizing people, where we are really to get assistance, now we certainly won't."

Paez noted that regarding the death of CSU student Samantha Spady, one investigative theory is that students may have been afraid of the legal repercussions had they been caught drinking under age.

"Obviously from a safety standpoint, the big question was, "Why didn't someone call for help," Paez said.

The bill came in a package of bills over the summer, responsive to student deaths over the past school year. While a bill proposed by Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, designed to register kegs failed, support for most bills has been sweeping in both legislature and lobby groups.

Even alcohol distribution lobbies came out in support, including former senator and lobbyist for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Steve Durham, who was quoted in the Denver Post regarding the bill positively.

"We never oppose – in fact, we usually support – legislation for increased penalties on underage sales and driving while intoxicated," Durham said in a May Denver Post article.

Conflict Resolutions on campus, while not a law enforcement agency, are coming out in full support.

"I think we're pretty much with Angie (Paccione) in terms of the greatest good is for students to feel 100 percent safe if they have a friend in need," said Anne Hudgens, executive director of Campus life. "It is possible for them to do some educational (research about alcohol) but students shouldn't feel in fear of losing their education."

Hudgens said there is an overriding consensus of support for this "greatest good" policy.

"Everybody's biggest priority is making sure students aren't guessing if they're going to get in trouble (for trying to help)," Hudgens said.

Paccione was unavailable for comment.

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