DeSoto Parish Sheriff Rodney Arbuckle wants a new ordinance to let deputies ticket anyone too young to drink who is found with alcohol on private property.
The Times reports that Arbuckle says the proposed ordinance would close a loophole in state law.
Scores of underage drinkers can often be found during weekends on pastures, near remote oil wells and at homes, he said.
“The word has gotten around that they can be on private property and we can’t do anything to them but call their parents and tell them to come get them – that is if we can find their parents,” he said. “It amazes me we’ve got this going on at 3 a.m. and parents don’t even know where their kid is. I’m talking about 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds.”
The sheriff said teens often learn about the parties through Snapchat, an app in which pictures, videos or text disappears after being viewed. Many don’t know the host, he said.
Arbuckle said he decided to act after homeowner Derrick Scott, 37, called to report a disturbance at his home on Dec. 23, and two teenagers were taken to a hospital for treatment of suspected alcohol poisoning.
Deputies found beer cans and teenagers, some of whom ran into the woods. Scott was cited for contributing to juvenile delinquency. Deputies had to stay with the remaining teens until their parents arrived.
It’s illegal for anyone under 21 to buy alcohol. But Louisiana law allows them to consume or possess it as long as they are with a parent, spouse or legal guardian, or at a private residence. That last exemption is fueling an increase in teen drinking parties, officials said.
The parish can strengthen a state law but not weaken it, assistant district attorney Mike Daniel told police jurors at a recent meeting where Arbuckle discussed the proposed law.
The DeSoto sheriff’s office has asked the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association to propose legislation this year to remove the private residence loophole or redefine it.
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