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Oklahoma State Senate
Senator Roger Ballenger
Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee Co-Chairman
Senate District 8
McIntosh, Okfuskee and Okmulgee Counties

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For Immediate Release: February 20, 2008

Senator Roger Ballenger
Sen. Roger Ballenger

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Changes To Alcohol Possession Law

OKLAHOMA CITY-The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved legislation this week that would update Oklahoma’s drinking laws and make it illegal for the consumption or possession of alcohol (hard liquor) by a person under the age 21.

Senate Bill 1724, authored by State Senator Roger Ballenger, D-Okmulgee, now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

“This bill is about public safety,” Ballenger said. “As a parent and grandparent, I was surprised and dismayed to learn that we didn’t have a law on the books addressing this issue. This legislation is long overdue and will help keep our young people safe.”

Captain Rusty Rhoades, legislative liaison with the Department of Public Safety, said Oklahoma law has a provision making consumption or possession of 3.2 beer illegal for persons under age 21, but not for hard liquor. He said SB 1724 would mirror the low-point beer provision and includes an exemption for bona fide religious rites, rituals and ceremonies.

Rhoades cited the example that if a law enforcement officer found a person under 21 in possession or consuming alcohol, there was nothing the officer could legally do unless that person was intoxicated. Senator Ballenger’s bill would change that.

“Surprisingly, we found there is nothing in state law that addresses this issue,” Rhoades said. “Simple possession of hard liquor isn’t covered. This legislation would close that loophole and make it illegal for people under age 21 to possess or consume alcohol.”

 Any person convicted of violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. A first offense could result in a fine not to exceed $300 or ordered to perform community service, not to exceed 30 hours. A second offense could result in a $600 fine and 60 hours of community service. A third offense could result in a $900 fine and up to 90 hours of community service.

For more information contact:
Senator Ford's Office:  (405) 521-5588

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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