WICHITA, Kansas – Several groups are working to try to convince city leaders that tougher penalties are needed for adults who furnish alcohol to minors.
The Stand Together Coalition is pushing for an ordinance in Wichita to make adults think twice before giving alcohol to those under 21 years of age.
Kelly Rice lives with the consequences of a DUI crash every day. Her 18-year-old daughter Amanda was killed when her 19-year-old boyfriend, who had been drinking, hit a pole in May 2008.
“He was gunning the tires where they would spin and he would peel out,” Rice said. “And instead of it peeling out, he lost control of the car.”
While the driver in that wreck was sentenced to the maximum four-year prison sentence, prosecutors were unable to prove that an adult supplied him with the alcohol that ultimately led to Amanda Rice’s death.
“Whoever said, it got easier, they lied,” Kelly Rice said. “I mean, it does not get easier.”
According to research from the Stand Together Coalition, there were zero cases of furnishing alcohol to minors in Wichita Municipal Court last year, and they argue it is because the city does not have an ordinance on the matter. They compare that to Haysville, which has an ordinance dealing with this. Even though it is a much smaller city than Wichita, it had six cases being prosecuted in its municipal court, the group said.
“I do believe if someone over 21 who is supposed to be responsible gives somebody underage alcohol, there should be a hefty enough fine they’re not going to do it again,” Kelly Rice said.
This comes as county leaders are reminding adults of the consequences of providing alcohol to minors.
The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office wants to remind parents that the fines are pretty stiff for hosting underage drinking parties.
They include a $200 fine plus court costs and up to six months in jail for furnishing alcohol to minors.
“Basically, it’s within your control as a parent or homeowner, and you are turning a blind eye or kind of putting your head in the sand as to what those kids are doing, you can be responsible,” said Aaron Breitenbach, Sedgwick County Assistant District Attorney.
The fine for hosting a party is $1,000 plus court fees and up to a year in jail.