A legislative panel has revived a bill that would have parents and schools notified when a teen is caught with an open can or bottle of beer — or a bottle or glass of some other form of alcohol. Under current law, someone under 18 who’s charged with an “open container” violation appears before a magistrate, pays the fine, and their parents are not notified.
Representative Dwayne Alons, a Republican from Hull, says that makes no sense because if you’re caught with a closed can of beer or caught driving drunk when you’re a minor, your parents are notified. “When they are apprehended by law enforcement, that charge then would bring them to juvenile court and the parents are notified and they’re part of the whole process,” Alons says.
Alons wants law enforcement to notify not only parents but the teen’s school when there’s an “open container” violation. Alons says in his opinion, the open container violation is a “more egregious” crime compared to driving around with a six-pack of beer that hasn’t been opened. He says kids can go before a magistrate, plead guilty, pay the one-hundred-dollar fine and then be released and their parents probably won’t find out unless they read the crime report in the local newspaper.
The bill had cleared the House Public Safety Committee but did not clear the full House by the deadline for action on such bills, so Alons used his authority as chairman of the Legislative Oversight Committee to advance the bill on teenage “open container” violations.
“So the parents know and also school authorities like liaison officers or other (school) folks that would be able to deal with these kinds of choices that kids make,” Alons says. The bill must clear both the House and Senate before it can be sent to Governor Vilsack for his consideration.