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Brown Jug bill (copy)

Gov. Scott Walker signed the so-called Brown Jug bill into law Thursday, allowing bar owners and retailers to collect $1,000 from underage drinkers by taking them to court.

Getting busted for underage drinking in Wisconsin just got a bit more expensive.

A measure known as the Brown Jug Bill was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Scott Walker, giving bar owners and other establishments that sell alcoholic beverages the ability to report underage drinkers to the police and then take them to court.

The underage drinker would then be required to pay the business owner $1,000 if found guilty. The fine would be in addition to the $250 to $1,000 underage drinking fine an individual would receive from law enforcement.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Gudex, R-Fond du Lac, was designed to create an additional roadblock to underage drinking in a state that typically leads the nation on binge drinking and alcohol consumption lists.

Scott Stenger, a spokesman and lobbyist with the Tavern League of Wisconsin, said the group is pleased with Walker’s decision to sign the bill.

“It is another tool in our tool box to fight underage drinking and the use of fake IDs in our state,” Stenger said shortly after attending the bill-signing ceremony at the Capitol.

Only a small number of states have such a law in place. Alaska passed the first more than a decade ago and the bill is named for the Brown Jug liquor store chain in Anchorage that first pushed for the measure.

In an interview with the Cap Times, Gudex said technology has made it easier to produce fake identification cards. As a result, many small businesses are spending more to hire additional staff to check IDs.

“I think this is a good way to ward off society’s problem with alcohol,” Gudex said. “We are trying to put up some road blocks so they think twice before they do this.”

The Tavern League of Wisconsin, Bowling Centers Association of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Grocers Association and the Wisconsin Amusement and Music Operators lobbied in favor of the bill.

The Wisconsin Public Health Association, the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and Health First Wisconsin (formerly Smoke Free Wisconsin) opposed the bill on the grounds fines were already in place for underage drinkers.

(1) comment

Vicki Marquardt

Finally, a first step in accountability with regards to alcohol abuse in WI.

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