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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Press Release: Runner Package To Combat Underage Drinking Passes Committees
Bills receive unanimous support
For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Sharon Runner
Colleen Ripchick
(916) 319-2036

Sacramento – This week, two Assembly policy committees voted to support the bills in Assemblywoman Sharon Runner’s (R-Lancaster) underage drinking package. On Tuesday, the Assembly Committee on Public Safety unanimously passed
AB 1657, and on Wednesday the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization unanimously passed AB 1658.

“I am encouraged that these issues have such broad support among members of both parties of the Legislature,” said Assemblywoman Runner. “We cannot let these issues of public safety go unaddressed any longer; I look forward to seeing this package realized.”

AB 1657, commonly known as “Jeffrey’s Law” was first introduced in 2005 in memory of a 17 year-old boy taken from his mother. A 41 year-old woman provided Jeffrey and his underage friends with alcohol, allowing 11 of them to drive away in an SUV. This action took the lives of two children and seriously injured the others. The woman was sentenced to a mere 180 days in county jail.

“Jeffrey’s Law” seeks to deter adults who knowingly provide alcohol to minors by allowing for a felony for the most egregious instances of death and injury.

According to a study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, the cost of underage drinking is nearly $600 per American household each year, yet many of the current fines for underage drinking are under $500.

AB 1658 standardizes state law to more accurately reflect the dangers of underage drinking and its costs to society. This bill would fine minors, guilty of underage drinking, up to $500 for the first offense and $1000 for the second offense. Additionally, the bill fines adults $2500 for providing alcohol or false identification to minors.

“These measures could save lives,” said Assemblywoman Runner. “As members of government we should be pursuing all means within our power to protect the safety of the public, especially the safety of our children and this package would go a long way in doing just that.”

AB 1657 has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Appropriations and AB 1658 has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Public Safety.