Advocacy in Annapolis
Most state legislatures are well into their legislative sessions by now and some, like Virginia, have even adjourned already. We are supporting 130 bills in 35 states and the District of Columbia so far this year. One of our top priority states is Maryland where the Governor is championing a bill to significantly increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders by making DUI a felony on 4th and subsequent DUI convictions. We were proud to support that bill and many others today in the Maryland House Judiciary Committee hearing.
Another bill we strongly supported at today's hearing is changes to Alex and Calvin's Law (social host law) which passed last year. Currently, 31 states have some form of social host legislation to penalize adults who knowingly provide people under the age of 21 with alcohol. However, in Maryland the law that passed last year has some serious problems. Maryland's law also requires that the adult must have known that the underage person would drive after drinking alcohol AND the underage person must have been involved in a crash causing serious physical injury or death in order for the existing law to apply. This year's bill - House Bill 1015 - would close those loopholes by removing the provisions associated with DUI and serious injury/fatal crashes and simply hold adults responsible when they knowingly serve alcohol to someone under 21 -- which is already illegal in every state and has been since the late 1980s.
The majority of underage drinkers get the alcohol they drink from family, friends and other trusted adults, so the passage of H.B. 1015 is really important and would go a long way towards preventing underage drinking in Maryland. We really enjoy the opportunity to go to State Capitols and support lifesaving legislation. If we can be helpful in your state, let us know!