Md. bill aims to stiffen penalty on parents hosting underage drinking parties

- A car crash that claimed the lives of two recent Wootton High School students has led to new efforts to crack down on underage drinking.

A new bill proposed in Maryland is aiming to boost the penalty parents would pay if they host parties where underage drinking is allowed. It would double the fine and include possible jail time – up to one year for the first offense and two years for the second offense.

This stems from a June 2015 crash that killed Calvin Li and Alex Murk. The two 18-year-olds had been at a party where alcohol was provided. A parent was at home at the time.

Samuel Ellis, 19, is facing five charges, which includes vehicular manslaughter.

Kenneth Saltzman of North Potomac pleaded guilty to furnishing alcohol to minors. He paid the maximum penalty – a fine of $5,000, which is $2,500 for each count.

Maryland State Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo (D-Montgomery County), the bill's author, said it can't bring back those who have been lost, but perhaps it can prevent another tragedy.

"You have two 18-year-old kids in the beginning of their lives that are gone, they are dead now, and their parents and their friends have to live with this for the rest of their lives and it is not the way it is supposed to be,” said Fraser-Hidalgo. “You are not supposed to bury your children. Your children bury you."

Del. Fraser-Hidalgo said he is not alone on this. The overwhelming majority of the Montgomery County delegation has signed on the legislation and they are hoping to have a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee for a full vote in the next several weeks.

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