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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: March 4, 2008

Sen. Roger Ballenger
Sen. Roger Ballenger

Senate Approves Changes To Alcohol Possession Law

The Oklahoma State Senate approved legislation Monday 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 and Rep. Wade Rousselot, D-Okay, will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“Underage drinking is not just a public safety issue,” Ballenger said. “It’s also a health issue. This legislation is long overdue and will responsibly help keep Oklahoma’s 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 deemed to be intoxicated. Senator Ballenger’s bill would change that.

“There is no current statute in law that addresses possession or consumption of hard liquor by anyone under the age 21,” Rhoades said. “This new law will close that loophole and provide another enforcement tool for public safety officials.”

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 fine not to exceed $600 and up to 60 hours of community service. A third offense could result in a fine not to exceed $900 and up to 90 hours of community service.

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

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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