Underage Alcohol Arrest Reform: Senate Bill 160


ATLANTA, Ga-  The consequences of getting caught drinking under age may be going down. Georgia Senate Bill 160 is being voted on tomorrow by Senate committee members.

Minors who are caught under the influence may not be spending a night in jail anymore. The penalty would decrease from arrest to citation of minors in possession of alcohol.

Two weeks ago, UGA student government representatives visited the Capitol to present the idea of a law that would stop minors in possession of alcohol from being arrested. SGA representative Grant Thomas and other members had this as one of many agenda items that they hope will be written into law:

“We feel that students shouldn’t be arrested for underage possession of alcohol,” Thomas said. “That is affirmed by our survey which says that 92% of students support moving to a citation model for underage possession of alcohol.”

Less than a week later that idea was turned to bill and is currently being pushed through the Senate by Senator and bill author Michael Williams. After multiple revisions, Senator Williams is hopeful that this bill will pass.

“The purpose of this is to delineate between somebody who was just drinking within the law, outside of being underage, and someone who is abusing alcohol,” Senator Williams said.

The bill was revised just last night and the latest version of the bill will be debated in the Senate Public Safety committee tomorrow.

While senator Williams believes the bill would be an excellent law for the state, Chief of Police for the University of Georgia, Jimmy Williamson, has dealt with too many overly intoxicated kids to be in support.

Say a person is passed out. Do you want me to just stick a citation in their pocket and walk off? They’re still at risk!” Williamson said.

Chief Williamson believes that if the bill is passed then police will start charging people under 21 for multiple charges like public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, instead of simply arresting them for the MIP.

The bill has to pass committee tomorrow before it can advance to the Senate floor. If it passes through the Senate, it will head to the Georgia House before starting the whole process over again.

Tune in to Grady Newsource for the latest information on the bill.


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