Group warns against giving minors alcohol

Ahead of Spring Break, the nonprofit Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse sought to remind Odessans of a city ordinance created last summer that created steep new fines for adults who provide children with alcohol.

The “Social Host” ordinance that the group asked the Odessa City Council to pass allowed officers to issue civil citations if they determine that the adults knowingly allow minors to drink.

“We don’t want adults to get in trouble — we want adults to not do it,” said Mellessa Brenem, the youth prevention program director with PBRCADA. “So this is that deterrence.”

It was already illegal to give alcohol to a minor, and police can arrest or issue criminal citations to people who do it, but the new penalties do not require the same amount of evidence showing adults provided the minors with alcohol.

Odessa Police Department Deputy Chief Jesse Duarte said that officers had issued three citations since the ordinance took effect and the department plans periodic operations with other agencies to target underage drinking.

“It’s working,” Duarte said. “The main purpose here is to protect our youth.”