Md. county prosecutor pushes bill to strengthen penalties against furnishing alcohol

WASHINGTON — A bill to increase penalties for adults who enable underage drinking is now working its way through the Maryland legislature. And Montgomery County’s top prosecutor wants it to have teeth.

The parents of Wootton High School students Calvin Li and Alex Murk shared their loss with lawmakers weeks ago. The teens died in 2015 after leaving a friends house where alcohol was served.

The families weighed in, helping lawmakers draft legislation to increase the penalties for adults who buy alcohol for teens, or knowingly host an underage drinking party.

“Both are illegal. People don’t realize the  second one is equally illegal under the law,” says States Attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy.

McCarthy is closely following legislation moving forward in Annapolis to attach, at maximum, a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for adults who enable underage drinking.

“Having at least the flexibility to do that I think is a very important statement for us to make, especially this time of year,” he says, referring to the upcoming prom and spring break season.

As the law stands, a fine is the maximum penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor. Jail time is not an option, McCarthy says.

“I’m hoping we can make some progress on putting some teeth into some laws,” he says.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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