City council members in Rochester and Rochester Hills on Monday, November 13, unanimously approved changes to their local ordinances that will reduce penalties to first time offenses for minors in possession of alcohol.
The changes, which will take effect on January 1, 2018, reduce first time offenses for minors in possession of alcohol from a misdemeanor offense to a civil infraction. The changes were made to comply with updates to Michigan's law regarding underage alcohol consumption.
Rochester City Attorney Jeff Kragt said second and subsequent offenses will 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.
Councils’ action was the second and final reading of the ordinance amendments in each city, with both cities approving the first readings of the ordinances on Monday, October 23.
Rochester Hills councilwoman Stephanie Morita said at the October city council meeting that the board previously 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.