Angry Judge Stiffens Fines For Underage Drinking and Loud Parties
FARGO, N.D. (AP) _ After watching hours of raucus drinking and swearing at a party near his daughter’s house, a judge tripled his fines for underage drinkers in an effort to ″take back the streets from the nightcrawlers.″
One attorney said Judge Thomas Davies’ new policy ″smacks of age discrimination,″ but the judge called such talk ″absolute nonsense.″
Davies said that by raising the fines for minors in possession of alcohol and for violations of Fargo’s loud party ordinance, he hopes to prevent young people from developing serious problems with alcohol when they are older.
″I decided somebody’s got to do something,″ Davies said. ″Maybe if these kids start thinking of the beer they’re holding in their hand as costing $300, they’ll think twice about drinking it.″
Davies, 51, who has a reputation for being tough on young drinkers, said he watched for two hours Saturday night while high school and college men and women wreaked havoc in his daughter’s neighborhood.
The revelers were drinking, swearing loudly, running through people’s yards and berating neighbors for calling the police, he said.
″When the party was done, I thought, ‘This is Fargo, N.D.?’ I thought I knew my city. I thought I knew the kids,″ said Davies.
The judge said he is responding by increasing the fine in his court for possession of alcohol by minors from $100 to $300 and the fine for noise violations from $350 to $500 - the maximum fine allowed under city law. North Dakota’s legal drinking age is 21.
″I want people in this city to know that there are people out there who do care, who want to take the streets back from the nightcrawlers,″ he said.
Attorneys who have appeared before Davies declined to comment on the move, but they describe the judge as ″very strict″ on underage drinking and possession charges.
Dwight Kautzmann, former president of the state Bar Association, said the stricter fines may provoke charges of age discrimination.
″I think the good judge might want to reconsider his position,″ he said.
But Davies said he doesn’t worry about how others view his sentences.
″I don’t take an opinion poll on how they might be received by the public,″ he said. ″I basically operate from the gut.″