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New Amherst law targets underage drinking parties

Amherst has a new law on the books to deter unruly parties of underage drinkers.

The "social host liability" law holds property owners, landlords, tenants and others responsible when police are called to break up a gathering.

"It gives the police another tool to address this problem of underage drinking," said Town Attorney Stanley Sliwa.

The civil ordinance requires completion of a six-hour alcohol education class provided by a certified prevention agency after the first offense. That kind of educational component is not mandated in state penal or Alcohol Beverage Control law, Sliwa said. The new town law approved this week also assesses civil fines and could require reimbursement for the police response cost.

Underage drinking parties are a problem in certain areas of the town, he said, mainly in student housing near the University at Buffalo.

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