ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland legislature seems ready to crack down on people, including parents, who provide teens with alcohol. But there’s also a move to weaken the bill.
The region is no stranger to teen drinking parties, which sometimes end in tragedy. Last summer two 2015 Wootton High School graduates were killed in a single car crash following a teen drinking party.
Lawmakers have shown plenty of support for a bill that would toughen penalties against those who provide alcohol to underage drinkers, raising the potential of up to one year in prison and doubling the fine to $5,000.
The bill moved smoothly through the General Assembly until amendments were added in recent days.
“There are some obvious second thoughts. These are unfortunate because these are indeed weakening second thoughts,” says Kurt Erickson, president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, a non-profit devoted to anti-drunk driving and anti-underage drinking.
The amendments would change the underlying bill subjecting persons, including parents who host teen drinking parties, to prison and high fines only if they knew that the teen was going to drive and only if the teen’s driving causes death or serious injury.
The fate of the bill remains uncertain.