By Ken MacLeod

DUXBURY (CBS) – Duxbury may change the way it does business when it comes to policing and prosecuting underage drinking. The town is trying to walk a fine line of enforcing laws but keeping kids out of the court systems.

Teens WBZ-TV talked to Tuesday night are on-board.

“I think the fine would be good because at least there is some punishment but it’s not going to affect you for the rest of your life,” said 18-year-old Conor Mackey.

He’s talking about a new town bylaw backed by the police chief that would give officers another option on underage drinkers.

“We’re floating the idea of decriminalizing that charge of minor in possession of alcohol,” said Duxbury Police Chief Matthew Clancy.

State law now calls for either arresting them or filing a criminal complaint, which both get onto the young offenders record for colleges and prospective employers to see down the road.

A violation of the new bylaw would not.

The noncriminal fine would be $150 for first time offenders and $300 for repeaters. Police would still notify the drinkers’ parents and school.

It also gives officers an option somewhere in between a criminal charge and a wrist slap for the offenders’ adolescent lapse in judgment.

“I don’t think that should follow you for the rest of your life if you’re that young,” said parent Kelly Ragona. “I think you need to give somebody a break.”

But police don’t want anyone to think they’re turning a blind eye. They believe the bylaw packs enough bite to serve as an effective deterrent and several parents WBZ-TV spoke with agreed.

“I think it’s an important opportunity to teach kids a lesson,” said parent John Lovett. “Kids do silly things some times.”

The bylaw, modeled after a handful already on the books in other spots, will be debated at the town meeting this Saturday.

Ken MacLeod

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