Don’t invite Jim Beam or Captain Morgan to your graduation party

Jeffrey Edblad
Isanti County Attorney

Graduation season is here and with it comes the celebration of accomplishments and achievements. Unfortunately, the celebration can also come with underage alcohol consumption.

According to a 2016 survey of Minnesota 5th, 8th, 9th and 11th graders that was a collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Minnesota schools, 22 percent of Isanti County 8th, 9th and 11th graders reported alcohol use in the past 30 days compared to the statewide average of 14 percent.

Specifically, 13 percent of 8th graders in Isanti County reported alcohol use in the past 30 days; 19 percent of 9th graders in Isanti County reported alcohol use in the past 30 days; and 35 percent of 11th graders in Isanti County reported alcohol use in the past 30 days.

Past 30 day binge drinking (defined as having five or more drinks in a row on a single occasion) reported by the same survey indicated 10 percent of Isanti County 8th, 9th and 11th graders engaging in this activity compared to the statewide average of 6 percent.

Specifically, 3 percent of 8th graders in Isanti County reported binge drinking in the past 30 days; 7 percent of 9th graders in Isanti County reported binge drinking in the past 30 days; and 20 percent of 11th graders in Isanti County reported binge drinking in the past 30 days.

In a 2013 study of minors in Isanti County who used alcohol, 67 percent of those who used alcohol reported getting the alcohol from someone else, including friends, parents, family members or another adult who bought or provided them with the alcohol.

One of the tools available to address the public health and public safety concerns raised by providing alcohol to minors is a Social Host Ordinance. The county of Isanti, as well as the cites of Cambridge and Isanti have all enacted Social Host Ordinances. Under a Social Host Ordinance, an individual can face criminal liability, including jail and fines for hosting or allowing an event or gathering where alcohol is present and being provided or consumed by persons under 21 years of age. The ordinance applies to any residence or premises and puts criminal liability on the part of the individual who hosts or allows alcohol consumption by minors at an event or gathering that takes place at that residence or premises. Since the inception of these ordinances, there have been several properties of individuals who have hosted or allowed underage drinking parties to take place.

The Isanti County Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery Coalition, along with the law enforcement community recognizes that parental involvement is an important factor in preventing alcohol use by minors and wants to remind the community that graduation parties are a time for celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates and not an opportunity to allow or host a party with underage drinking.

Congratulations to all of our 2017 graduates. We wish you all the best in what life has to offer you.