January 20, 2015

My Suburban Life Editorial on New Social Hosting Law

LAKE COUNTY – A new Illinois state law imposes penalties for parents or guardians who provide alcohol to minors on private property including vehicles, boats, and motor homes, and private planes. 

The Lake County Sheriff's Office intends to enforce the new laws on the county's many lakes come boating season, according to Sgt. James McKinney of Lake County Sheriff's Office's Marine Unit. As of Jan. 1, there is a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail for knowingly providing underage drinking to occur, McKinney said.
"If death results from providing alcohol to minors, the adult is subject to be charged with a felony," McKinney said, adding that the law also includes provisions for social hosting and parties in which adults provide alcohol to minors.

Mike Nerheim, Lake County state's attorney, said his office has "seen tragic examples of what underage drinking results in." "We hope that this legislation will encourage parents and guardians to be more vigilant," Nerheim said. "We also hope that this legislation will set a precedence to discourage parents in hosting social events that involve underage drinking in their homes.” McKinney said the new state laws are a result of local tragedies.

For the rest of the article go here.

January 19, 2015

Extreme binge drinking: How common is it among high school seniors?

A University of Michigan study published online in JAMA Pediatrics finds that ten percent of high school seniors have engaged in extreme binge drinking, drinking 10 or more alcoholic drinks in a single sitting.
The study is based on data from a nationally representative sample of more than 16,000 high school seniors, surveyed between 2005 and 2011 as part of the annual Monitoring the Future Study conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

“More than one in ten high school seniors (10.5 percent) had 10 or more drinks in a row and more than one in 20 (5.6 percent) had 15 or more drinks in a row at least once in the last two weeks,” said developmental psychologist Megan Patrick, lead author of the study.

The study is important because it provides insight into seemingly conflicting trends:  that reported levels of binge drinking – traditionally defined as having five or more drinks in a row – have been declining among adolescents, although medical emergencies involving teen alcohol use have not.

“During the last two weeks,” the survey questions asked, “how many times (if any) have you had five [10, 15] or more drinks in a row?”  A drink was defined as any of the following:  a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer; a 4-ounce glass of wine; a 12-ounce bottle or can of wine cooler; or a mixed drink, shot glass of liquor, or the equivalent.

Patrick and colleagues found considerable variation in the rates of binge drinking among different groups.  Young men, students from more rural areas, and individuals of white race/ethnicity had particularly high rates of extreme binge drinking.  Teens from the Midwest were more likely than those in other geographic regions to report extreme binge drinking.

“Alcohol use among adolescents is an enduring public health problem, and our findings regarding the rates of extreme binge drinking are particularly alarming,” said Patrick.  “We hope that this study is helpful in drawing attention to the extent of extreme binge drinking among our nation’s high school seniors.”

Co-authors of the study were John Schulenberg, Meghan Martz, Patrick O’Malley and Lloyd Johnston at the U-M and Jennifer Maggs at Pennsylvania State University. The research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01DA001411.

January 5, 2015

New Law goes into effect with help from the Task Force

From the December 20th Lake County News Sun.
Parents and guardians considering allowing their teens to host parties will be responsible for more than just the alcohol consumed in the house when the new year rolls in.

Beginning Jan. 1, parents and guardians can be fined up to $2,000 if they allow those under 21 to drink in vehicles, trailers, campers or boats under their ownership or control. And if a death occurs as a result, parents or guardians can be charged with a felony.

The legislation expands the current state law, which penalizes adults who allow underage people to drink alcohol in their homes. It was sponsored in the Senate by Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat, who remembers a fatal accident in 2006 involving teenagers who were her children’s age.

Daniel Bell of Bannockburn and Ross Trace of Riverwoods, both 18, were killed after leaving a house party in Deerfield when their car slammed into a tree. Bell, the driver, had a blood-alcohol level of .132, above the .08 driving limit.

“It was one of the most horrific things that ever happened in our sleepy little town,” Morrison said.

The new law, Morrison says, “tightens up some of the loopholes” in the earlier legislation that bans adults from allowing children to drink in their homes.

Republican state Sen. Pam Althoff, who worked on the original legislation, said it became clear in recent years that law enforcement agencies “were dealing with not only the situation of teenage vehicular homicides but also many accidents that were occurring on lakes and rivers.”