A Mercer Island man expects to be the first parent cited under an ordinance addressing underage drinking in their homes.
A Mercer Island man who expects to be the first person cited under a city ordinance holding parents responsible for underage drinking in their homes — even if they are away and unaware — says he may go to court to challenge the citation.
“I have a problem with the idea that you can fine someone for someone else’s actions,” said Greg James. “The more I think about it, the more I think it’s kind of a dumb law.”
James said Friday he has not decided whether he will pay the $250 fine, and has not been officially informed that he would be cited.
Police earlier this week said on Feb. 24, officers broke up a party that had drawn about 75 teens to the family’s home in the 7600 block of Southeast 37th Place, and involved large numbers of teens consuming alcohol.
Most Read Local Stories
- These 3 Seattle scientists study the coronavirus. Now they're getting millions to chase their 'wildest scientific ideas'
- Missing Lummi Nation woman found alive, aunt says
- Washington state analyzed two COVID scenarios for fall. One is much worse than the other
- Wondering why society went off-kilter during the pandemic? It was all predicted in this book
- Lummi Nation woman disappeared during Las Vegas trip with fiancé and friends, now found alive
Police said the party would trigger the first use of the ordinance that took effect in January.
James said his 16-year-old son, a junior at Mercer Island High School, had invited seven or eight friends over for pingpong, but word of the gathering quickly spread through cellphones and social media.
“So pretty soon, you have teenagers streaming through the door, and before you know it, you have a big party.” James was taking the family’s three younger siblings skiing at the time.
“Teenagers are teenagers. They’re not the smartest people in the world at that stage.”
James said he doesn’t mean to downplay the seriousness of underage drinking, and the potential dangers involved in having young people drink and drive.
He said his son is being punished with extra chores, is likely to receive a citation of his own and won’t be left at home alone “for a long time.”
But James said he doesn’t regard the $250 fine as a deterrent, and he thinks the law is unfair, particularly if the young person hasn’t been in trouble before. “Our son has no history of drugs or drinking … he’s generally pretty quiet,” James said.
“If a kid was regularly doing this and the parents left the kids at home knowing they had this history, that would be different,” James said.
Earlier this week, James told a TV reporter that despite his feelings about the law, he would go ahead and pay the fine.
But on Friday, James said he is reconsidering, in part because an attorney he knows told him he doubts the Mercer Island ordinance is constitutional.
Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org