By Jacob Mathias
In a parallel move to Stevens Point and Plover, Portage County is considering a social hosting ordinance.
“It is aimed at those who host underage drinking event and hold them accountable for what they do,” said Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas. “Right now the only way you can really hold them accountable is if something bad happens.”
The resolution to institute the ordinance was approved at a Public Safety/Emergency Management Committee meeting on May 27. The final seal of approval comes from the Portage County Supervisors who will vote on the resolution at their regular meeting on June 23.
“It’s a real positive step. I think we have to make people aware there are consequences beyond the obvious to hosting these situations,” said Committee Member Dan Dobratz. “Not only are they endangering kids by doing it, they’re endangering others.”
“Anything that can reduce underage drinking is a good thing,” added Portage County Chairman Phil Idsvoog.
The ordinance states in part: “no person may host or allow an event or gathering at any premises or public or private location under the person’s control, where alcohol is present, and knowingly permit or fail to take reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of alcohol by an underage person.”
Fines for those that violate the ordinance start at a minimum of $300 plus prosecution costs for a minimum of $515.50. The maximum fine is $2000 plus prosecution costs. The fines match those of Stevens Point and Plover.
“Just like all laws and ordinances, the ultimate intent is to get people to do the right thing and not have to have law enforcement act upon that,” said Lukas.
Chief Deputy Dan Kontos said that no records of possible past social hosting violations are kept.
Similar ordinances were implemented in Plover in March and Stevens Point in April.
The resolution follows:
WHEREAS, the Portage County Board of Supervisors intends to discourage underage possession and
consumption of alcohol, even if done within the confines of a private residence, and intends to hold persons
civilly responsible who host events or gatherings where persons under twenty-one years of age possess or
consume alcohol regardless of whether the person hosting the event or gathering supplied the alcohol; and
WHEREAS, events and gatherings held on private or public property where alcohol is possessed or
consumed by persons under the age of twenty-one are harmful to those persons, and constitute a potential threat
to public health requiring prevention or abatement; and
WHEREAS, prohibiting underage consumption acts to protect underage persons, as well as the general
public, from injuries related to alcohol consumption, such as alcohol overdose or alcohol related traffic
WHEREAS, alcohol is an addictive drug which, if used irresponsibly, could have drastic effects on
those who use it, as well as those who are affected by the actions of an irresponsible user; and
WHEREAS, often events or gatherings involving underage possession and consumption occur outside
the presence of parents. However, there are times when the parents are present and condone the activity, and in
some circumstances, provide the alcohol; and
WHEREAS, a deterrent effect will be created by holding a person responsible for hosting an event or
gathering where underage possession or consumption occurs; and
WHEREAS, consistency in enforcement across the county is considered an important aspect, and this
ordinance would mirror that of the City of Stevens Point and the Village of Plover; and
WHEREAS, alcohol can cause alterations in the structure and function of the developing brain,
which continues to mature into a person’s mid 20s, and it may have consequences reaching far beyond
WHEREAS, this law enforcement tool has been endorsed by the Portage County Sheriff and the
Coalition for Alcohol/Drug Abuse Prevention.
FISCAL NOTE: There are no fiscal obligations for the County associated with this resolution.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Portage County Board of Supervisors hereby enacts and
creates section 2.27 of the Portage County Code as set forth in the following document and recited herein by reference, with revisions to be posted to the world wide web from the County’s web site, along with written paper format to remain available in the County Clerk’s office.