Thank you to Joe Hoy and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office for addressing the issue of underage drinking. Thank you to the parents who attended.
I appreciate Randy Wyrick’s coverage on June 12 of the meeting held with the community at Battle Mountain High School regarding minor in possession citations and the general concerns parents have regarding the issue.
One very important concern that did not get covered in the article, but was discussed during the meeting, deserves some attention. The issue is regarding MIPs being issued to our children who are not drinking. It is up to the responding deputy to discern who is issued MIPs, according to Sheriff Hoy.
He read the Colorado statute, where it defines possession as a person who has ethyl alcohol in his “presence and control.” The concern is twofold: One is the legal interpretation of the statute, and the second is the message being sent to our community. What is the message that law enforcement is sending by issuing an MIP to someone not drinking? Their only offense is that they are attending an event where alcohol is being consumed by minors. The ramifications of having an MIP on your record is substantial.
I am adamantly against minors drinking. I understand that teenagers are going to break rules and those who do should suffer the consequences of doing so.
However, these teenagers are under an immense amount of peer pressure, and those who are strong enough to resist the social pressure of breaking the rules should not be punished but, rather, praised for their strength and commitment. They are showing resilience and leadership. If they are detoured from attending a social event because of fear of being falsely prosecuted, then they are being ostracized by their peers and stripped of the opportunity to lead by example.
Furthermore, they are considered guilty before proven innocent by the school district, as the punishment from the school begins at the moment of citation, as opposed to after conviction within the court system where their innocence can be proven.
I know it is a challenge for the deputies to make their decisions, and I believe they do a good job with the interests of our children in mind. I am concerned because this has happened to a few kids and a few is too many. I trust our judicial system will be fair when they are brought before the judge.