Byram approves tougher drinking ban

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    Byram-Byram officials have given the go-ahead to their police department to combat underage drinking more aggressively. On Monday night, the township council adopted an ordinance that prohibits underage drinking on private property. The legislation gives police the authority to enter private property and fine and/or jail individuals for underage drinking. "Our goal is to get all of the municipalities to do this," said Becky Carlson from the Center For Prevention & Counseling, a Newton based organization dedicated to fight addiction within the county. Byram is the fifth municipality in Sussex County to adopt such legislation. The center has already convinced Newton, Hopatcong, Wantage, and Andover Township to pass similar legislation. Under the new law, the only underage drinking permitted would be if parents approve of the consumption, or for religious purposes. Not all Byram residents agree with the new law. Amanda Hartle, a 16-year-old Byram resident does not condone underage drinking, however she is also against the new legislation because she believes it will push more youngsters to drink and drive. According o Hartle, underage drinking usually takes place at private homes where drinkers can sleep over afterwards. With the new law, she contends, drinkers will be more likely to attempt driving home for fear police may bust the party. "Kids are still going to drink, I mean come on now," said Hartle. A mother of a Byram teenager who asked to remain anonymous agreed with Hartle. "I would rather know that my kids are safe in a home being supervised when they drink," said the woman. "The kids are going to do it no matter what. If you're blinded and say that my kid would never drink, that's when you'll be surprised." The woman explained that it's more effective and safer to take the car keys from youngsters who are drinking in a private home, than have them go out and drink in the woods. Carlson disagrees that parents have the right to serve alcohol to other children. "You can say that you are keeping them in a safe environment, but do you really know that?" said Carlson. "Are you going to be with every child all night?" She added that some people react differently to alcohol, and said that if a child has alcoholism in his/her family, an adult who permits consumption could help set off the disease. Carlson believes that the Center For Prevention & Counseling will continue its efforts to hinder underage drinking by asking municipalities to pass tougher underage drinking ordinances.