Enforcement begins next month of a new St. Paul ordinance targeting adults who allow underage drinking. (Ed. note: Originally, enforcement had been scheduled to begin Nov. 13.)

The new “social host” ordinance which St. Thomas publicly supported makes it a misdemeanor to host a party where steps aren’t taken to prevent minors from possessing or drinking alcohol.

Ward 4 council member Russ Stark sponsored the ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the St. Paul City Council Oct. 14. It was enacted to prevent underage drinking parties and to hold their hosts accountable. The ordinance targets chronic offenders whose guests’ behavior disturbs their neighbors, damages property and/or jeopardizes their own or others’ safety.

Under the ordinance, the social host doesn’t have to be present at the party, event or gathering to be held criminally responsible.

Last year the city attorney’s office handled 425 cases of underage consumption.

Violations of the ordinance will be considered misdemeanors but can garner penalties as great as $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail.

An informational brochure about the new ordinance is available on the city Web site.