A change to the state's laws regulating the consumption of alcohol by minors prompted Rochester and Rochester Hills to modify their local ordinances regarding underage drinking.
Rochester City Attorney Jeffrey Kragt said on Monday, October 23, that the most significant change to the state law was to make first offenses for minors in possession of alcohol from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. Second and subsequent offenses remain misdemeanors with a maximum prison time of 30 days for a second offense and 60 days for third or more offenses. Those penalties remain only applicable if the person violates probation in some fashion and not simply for pleading guilty.
Prior to the change in state law, a minor would get a deferral with the chance of a dismissal if they pled to a first offense misdemeanor.
The state statute change goes into effect on January 1, 2018.
Rochester City Council members on Monday, October 23, voted unanimously to approve the first reading of the local ordinance to match the state law.
Rochester Hills City Council members also voted on Monday, October 23, to approve the first reading of an ordinance amendment in that city to mirror the state law.
Rochester Hills councilwoman Stephanie Morita said city council in the past had approved a local ordinance regarding minors and the use of e-cigarettes. In that instance, the council felt it was more appropriate for first time offenses to be regarded as civil infractions rather than misdemeanors.
"I'm so glad that the state figured out that kids make mistakes, and they shouldn't have a criminal record, at least the first time around," she said.
Both local ordinances would go into effect January 1, 2018, once they receive a second reading and final approval.