Maryland Senate Passes Bill to Crack Down on Parents Who Give Alcohol to Minors

By May Wilkerson 03/07/16

The new bill also calls for increased maximum fines for first-time offenders who host and provide alcohol at underage drinking parties.

Maryland Passes Bill to Crack Down on Parents Who Give Alcohol to Minors
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In Maryland, adults who give alcohol to minors will face steeper fines and possible jail time under a new bill that was passed unanimously this week by the Maryland Senate. Senate Bill 564 was introduced by Montgomery County Senator Brian Feldman as a response to a car accident that killed two high school students, Alex Murk and Calvin Li, who had been drinking at a party under parental supervision. 

In the bill, nicknamed Alex and Calvin's Law—which has yet to be voted on in Maryland's House of Delegates—Feldman calls to increase the maximum fines for first-time offenders who host underage drinking parties and provide alcohol to minors. Under the new law, the maximum fine would double from $2,500 to $5,000.

“While it would be easy to figuratively blame some faceless, impersonal entity for the unlawful provision of alcohol to these persons too young to legally purchase, possess or consume the same, federal data shows that parents and other adult family members are a leading source of alcohol for U.S. teenagers,” said Kurt Gregory Erickson, president of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program and a registered Maryland lobbyist. Erickson is a proponent of both Bill 564 and a similar House Bill that also calls for alcohol restrictions related to the fatal crash.

“At minimum, this legislation addresses the supply-side of underage drinking’s supply-and-demand paradigm,” said Erickson. “At maximum, this potentially lifesaving bill will serve as a deterrent to parents’ enabling of unlawful teen drinking and its too often life-changing consequences.”

A 2013 study by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found that 42% of the state's high school seniors had consumed alcohol, 25.6% had binge drank, and 21.7% had been a passenger in a car driven by someone who had been drinking. Parents are the second most likely group to give alcohol to minors, according to a study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The most frequent suppliers of booze to underage drinkers are non-family members who are of legal age, the study found.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, most U.S. states have the option to enforce sentences on those who are convicted of supplying alcohol to minors.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.