After months of urging local officials to close a loophole in the law, Niskayuna activists are celebrating the town board's approval of legislation that holds homeowners accountable for underage drinking or illegal drug use at their homes.
Adopted last week, the new law would hit violators with fines as high as $250 and could also lead to 15 days in jail for those who allow underage drinking during private parties at their home.
It used to be that a homeowner would only face penalties if they were serving or providing alcohol to someone under 21 years old, but that isn't true any longer in Niskayuna, and we are very happy with that, said Cheryl Adamec, with the Niskayuna Community Action Program, or NCAP. "This addresses a gap that exists in state law, and the penalties are sufficient to serve as insurance against anyone who might allow underage drinking or illegal drug use at their homes."
Adamec said the law applies to whomever has control of a home, and it defines "control" as someone who has knowledge or "reason to know" about underage drinking or illegal drug possession going on when there is a private party in a home.
"So if the parents are out of town, the law could apply to the young adult holding a party while they are away," said Adamec.
"The town board was asked to take action on this local law to help address a gap in the law, and there has been a lot of support for the proposal," said town board member Bill Chapman.
Gaining approval for the new law has been on NCAP's agenda since Margaret Brennan approached them nearly five months ago. A longtime Niskayuna resident, Brennan has been active in the group's Parent-to-Parent program, an outreach effort designed to help parents combat underage drinking and illegal drug use.