The Riverton City Council and Riverton Mayor John “Lars” Baker voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the “Habitual Drunkard” ordinance on first reading.
During the September 11th City Council work session, the issue was first discussed at length. The proposed language suggested that it should be “unlawful for any person to sell, or otherwise deliver to any habitual drunkard any alcoholic or malt beverage.” The definition of “habitual drunkard” was stated as, “a habitually intoxicated person includes an individual who has “been convicted of six or more criminal offenses through the Riverton Municipal Court, in which the Riverton Municipal Judge determined that the person was found guilty of being under the influence of alcohol to a degree that they were a danger to themselves or others at the time of the commission of the crime.”
Members of the Solutions Committee were in attendance to discuss the proposed idea. Riverton City Administrator Tony Tolstedt discussed a few modifications from the work session to the ordinance. Specifically, the manner in which a list of “habitual drunkards” would be distributed to liquor license holders. Tolstedt said that the City of Riverton and Riverton Police Department would be working with each liquor license holder on a system that works best for everyone. He said the list of residents not allowed to buy alcohol would be made public on the City of Riverton website, also.
Councilman Mike Bailey told those in attendance, “I think this is a really good idea, and moving in the right direction.” He then inquired what the penalty would be for someone who sells alcohol to a person on the list would be. Tolstedt replied the fine would be “up to $750, as determined by a judge.” Bailey then confirmed with Tolstedt that the current language says there is not a penalty for the person attempting to buy the alcohol when they are on the list. Bailey said, “I just philosophically have a problem with punishing the person that’s selling them the alcohol, getting punished worse than the person trying to buy it.” Bailey stressed “punishment on both sides, not just one side of the transaction.”
Councilman Lance Goede has been part of the Solution Committee and addressed a few concerns he felt the public may have had about this ordinance. “There was a lot of feedback, by members, as well as community members, that this isn’t going to fix anything.” Goede continued, “I think we were fairly honest with saying you’re right, the reality is there are multiple things that you have to do to make changes in this area. And you almost have to do them one at a time. I hope the community understands that we don’t expect this to be a magic bullet, but we need to do things like this to make some changes, that’s the hope of the Solutions Committee to continue to try things to see if they work. If they work, we’ll try them some more and if they don’t we’ll move on to new things.”
Riverton Chief of Police Eric Murphy said he didn’t currently have a list of residents who would be on the list but said he felt comfortable assuming it would be “15 to 20 people” at this time. He said that some of those people would have had “20-30 public intoxication violations, within a 6-month time period.”
Councilman Tim Hancock noted that, “If people follow the police blotter, I bet they can name the people that would be on that list.”
Tony Tolstedt concluded the discussion by saying that this proposed idea would be a work in progress, and saying it will take some time to get on the same page with liquor license holders.
You can watch the entire City Council meeting below.