Bill introduced to increase penalties for parents serving alcohol to underage teens

It’s a well known fact that most teenagers like to party, and at those parties there is often alcohol supplied by the host or party-goers. But when the kids are underage, they look to older people to buy and supply it, even sometimes parents.

Senate bill 564, introduced by Senator Brian Feldman would increase fines and even allow incarceration if parents were to participate in such events. 47 ABC spoke with Feldman and he says senate bill 564 came about after a high profile car wreck in Montgomery County, in which two 18 year old boys Alex Murk and Calvin Li were killed after being served alcohol at an under-aged drinking party that was hosted by parents. He says by putting this bill into effect, it will hopefully cut down on these tragedies.

Feldman tells 47 ABC, “This is a problem it’s not a Montgomery alone problem this is a statewide problem. Underage drinking is an issue but when you have these big underage drinking parties it really can become a tragedy.”

Feldman says in certain cases, parents are at those big parties, which was the case in Montgomery County this past summer.

Feldman tells 47 ABC, “I think that there’s this illusion that you somehow have more control of the situation. The reality is this is really a tragic situation that’s playing out all over the state.”

In Maryland, it is illegal for adults to host a teen drinking party at their home, or provide alcohol willingly and knowingly to underage kids. But when it happens, Feldman says the penalties are not tough enough.

Feldman tells 47 ABC, “In many parts of our state you know a $2,500 civil citation of sorts is not that much more than a parking fine or a slap on the wrist.”

Senate Bill 564 would hike the fine from $2,500 to $5,000 and add the possibility of jail time, up to one year. Jail time would be case by case and up to the court to decide, but Feldman says even the threat of it puts teeth in the penalties and could cut down on the crime.

Feldman tells 47 ABC, “If the message goes out into the community that the possibility exists that there could be a more serious sanction that that would provide a deterrent factor effect here.”

Senator Feldman said when the testimony for the bill was held, it was so compelling that it was voted out of committee on the spot before the hearing was even over. The bill still has to pass out of the house judiciary committee and hasn’t been voted on as of yet.

47 ABC also spoke with Cindy Shifler of the Wicomico County Health Department and she says that it’s not just Montgomery County that has the under-age drinking problem, it’s also right here in Wicomico County. Shifler says parents shouldn’t try and act like friends. Kids don’t need a friend, they have friends. Parents need to be parents and they need to say no when it comes to providing alcohol.

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