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Teen booze parties outlawed
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After months of talking about it, the Ceres City Council adopted an ordinance which makes it illegal for an adult to knowingly host a party where minors drink alcohol.

The Social Host Ordinance was adopted 5-0 on Monday. The second reading and adoption comes on Dec. 10. The ordinance makes it a misdemeanor crime for those hosting alcohol parties for those under the age of 21.

The council backed down from prior ordinance language which called for a cost recovery fee and a $500 fine for the first offense in a 12-month period, $1,000 fine for the third offense and $1,500 for the third. The council also did away with an appeals process before an admininstrative hearing officer employed by the city.

Robert Stanford, a Modesto resident who asked the council to adopt the ordinance in May, said he is happy with the council's action.

"We need to send a message that this is not appropriate," said Stanford. He said society needs to eliminate the notion that an alcohol party is a "rite of passage" for youth.

Stanford recounted at past meetings that he is haunted by not intervening when a drunk acquaintance drove his sister to her death in a 1984 car crash.

Also happy is Steve Breckenridge, a critic of the administrative fine process, calling them "taxes." Breckenridge, a former council candidate, said the former language was unconstitutional and claimed that it robbed people of the right to a jury trial.

Chief of Police Art deWerk said an officer has the discretion during the handling of any misdemeanor to make an arrest. He said factors that could influence an arrest may include intoxication of the accused, the odds of reoccurance, and warrants seeking arrest.