Looking to parents and peers to prevent teen alcohol deaths
There are too many stories like it—during Christmas break of 2008, 17 year-old Shelby Allen went over to a friend’s house where the parents were home and there was a stocked bar. It’s unclear what happened from the time she left her parents’ home around 12:40 am and began showing telltale signs of alcohol poisoning, but she was semi-conscious when her friends left her propped over a toilet and could not be revived when she was discovered the next morning. Two pieces of legislation moving through the California Senate this week—one aimed at negligent parents and another at scared teenage peers—seek to prevent such tragedies. AB2486, which the Governor signed into law yesterday, changes California law to make party hosts liable to the threat of a civil lawsuit if they provide alcohol to under-age guests, a civil recourse that was previously prohibited only in California and two other states. AB1999 would offer teens “limited immunity” for staying on the scene with an intoxicated friend until help arrives after calling 911. Will increased liability for parents and a more lenient law for peers make any difference in underage drinking?