River Falls Passes Law against Public Puking

Updated: 05/31/2014 10:41 AM
Created: 05/30/2014 8:08 PM
By: Naomi Pescovitz

Most municipalities have laws against urinating or defecating in public. River Falls, Wisconsin, just added another bodily function to the list.

As of this month, it's also against the law to vomit in public in River Falls.

"It certainly can be frustrating and expensive to clean up," River Falls Police Chief Roger Leque said. He adds that public vomiting has been a problem downtown for years.

"We're offering a very welcoming set of businesses for people to come and enjoy the downtown and shopping experience, and for people to have to dodge piles of vomit isn't very appealing," Leque said.

Leque asked the city council to add the word "vomit" to an ordinance against public urination and defecation. It quickly passed and became law earlier this month.

"I've come in and seen it, and it's gross," Michael Latessa said.

Latessa owns Third Eye Tattoo Parlor in downtown River Falls and has had to clean vomit from his front stoop. Still, he's not convinced a vomit violation will keep his steps spew-free.

"Honestly, I think it's a good way to collect revenue if you catch college students puking," Latessa said.

Early Sunday morning, River Falls Police cited a 23-year-old man for vomiting in public downtown. The man said he had been drinking and smoked a cigarette. Police say he was 10 feet from a trash can.

"What we're really pointing at is responsible use of alcohol," Leque said.

The new ordinance calls for a $124 fine, a court date, and possible monetary charges for any cleanup.

"If somebody vomits on a freshly-painted wall or a freshly-painted door, it's likely to stain that. And it does provide some opportunity for some recourse through the municipal court for some restitution," Leque said.

Minneapolis and St. Paul do have ordinances against spitting in public but no laws against vomiting.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

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