New bill could create harsher penalties for underage drinkers - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

New bill could create harsher penalties for underage drinkers

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NORTH CENTRAL WISCONSIN (WAOW) -

A new bill to stop underage drinking is gaining support in our state. The "Brown Jug" bill makes the penalty even more expensive, but not everyone agrees with it.

Wisconsin bar owners say they face the challenge of underage drinkers every day. If a bar serves someone under 21, it can cost them cash or their license.

"The fine is somewhat of a deterrent, but the license points that you lose is a much bigger deterrent," said Malarkey's bar owner Tyler Vogt.

Vogt says his bar has been cited once for an underage drinker, but he says that was enough.

"We've gotten one ticket about three years ago for an underage individual, since then we've hired a full-time door person," said Vogt.

Supporters of the new proposal -- called the "Brown Jug Bill" -- say it will cut down on the problem. The new bill would mean underage drinkers or their parents could be taken to court by bar owners and face an additional $1,000 fine. Opponents say the bill goes too far.

"I don't think that that should be an additional responsibility for kids and their families, meanwhile taking the responsibility off of the people who serve alcohol to minors," said Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters.

Those opponents say making use of current laws and working together to prevent underage drinking is the best solution.

"I think the responsibility for dealing with this problem in Wisconsin, has to be a shared one," said Kaminski.

Some bar owners, like Vogt, say the new bill could certainly help curb the problem.

"Any extra step that helps deter underage people from trying to use fake IDs to enter my business is definitely an advantage for us," said Vogt.

No vote has been taken on the bill yet. If it does pass the Assembly and Senate, it would still need Governor Scott Walker's approval.

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