New rule seeks to deter underage drinking on Lake Minnetonka

A new rule aimed at deterring underage drinking is now in effect on Lake Minnetonka.

Thousands of people gathered in 2015 at Big Island on Lake Minnetonka for the annual Fourth of July celebration. (Submitted file photo by Drone Star)

The ordinance amendment from the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, which went into effect July 14, will make it a misdemeanor for a boat owner or operator to knowingly allow, or fail to take reasonable steps to prevent, a minor from drinking alcohol on their boat.

The complete text of the rule:

“It is unlawful for an owner of a watercraft who is present in the watercraft, or for the operator of a watercraft if the owner is not present, to allow, or fail to take reasonable steps to prevent, the possession or consumption of any alcoholic beverage by an underage person on the watercraft if the owner or operator knows, or reasonably should know, the underage person possesses or is consuming any alcoholic beverage. This prohibition does not apply to situations in which an underage person is lawfully in possession of alcoholic beverages during the course and scope of employment.”

Enforcement of the new rule will be carried out by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol.

The regulation is similar to social host ordinances, which some cities have put into place to hold property owners responsible for underage drinking at their homes.

The new rule will also extend to the winter months for licensed owners of fish houses. The complete text of the rule:

“It is unlawful for the license holder of a fish house who is present in the fish house to allow, or fail to take reasonable steps to prevent, the possession or consumption of any alcoholic beverage by an underage person in the fish house if the license holder knows, or reasonably should know, that the underage person possesses or is consuming any alcoholic beverage.”

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol cruises Lake Minnetonka on July 4. Beginning July 14, the water patrol will enforce a new rule established by the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District aimed at deterring underage drinking. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Paige Kieffer)

According to the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, the ordinance amendment is one of the priorities of the agency’s strategic plan to promote lake safety, in partnership with the Hennepin County Water Patrol, by reducing overconsumption and underage drinking of alcoholic beverages.

During July 1-4, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol issued 11 boating while impaired citations and 45 underage consumption citations on Lake Minnetonka and other west metro lakes.

According to the conservation district, of the five medical responses on July 4 on Lake Minnetonka, four were related to underage drinking.

To view the ordinance amendment in its entirety, visit goo.gl/SPV2Cb.

– Compiled by Jason Jenkins