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CA Governor Signs Bill That Could Save Underage Drinkers’ Lives

Posted in Abused Drugs

After 17-year-old Shelby Lyn Allen of Redding, California, died of alcohol poisoning in December of 2008, her family fought for a bill that would grant limited immunity from prosecution to underage drinkers seeking medical treatment for themselves or their peers. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger just signed the legislation, known as Assembly Bill 1999.

Many underage teens have died from alcohol poisoning, and may have survived if their friends hadn’t been too afraid to call an ambulance. Debbie Allen, Shelby’s mother, said that some kids are afraid to seek help because they don’t want to get in trouble with the authorities and their families. This bill takes the trouble out of the equation, and could save many lives.

Shelby was found unconscious on a bathroom floor at the home of Wallace and Debby Liberman, with the Liberman’s now 18-year-old daughter and another teen. The Libermans were sleeping while the teens were drinking. The Liberman teen was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter, but a juvenile court dismissed the case.

Shelby drank 15 shots of vodka in about an hour. Her friends took her to the bathroom where she vomited, and she eventually lost consciousness there. The Liberman teen stayed with her until she believed she was okay, and checked on her two times before morning. The third teen checked on Shelby later in the morning and noticed she wasn’t breathing. An older sister of the Liberman teen told her father, who called 911.

The bill, introduced by Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada/Flintridge), will make underage drinkers immune from prosecution if they call 911 to report possible alcohol poisoning and cooperates with paramedics and law enforcement. Underage drinking is a misdemeanor otherwise.

Source: The Redding Searchlight, Scott Mobley, Governor signs ‘Shelby’s Law’ to protect youths who report alcohol abuse, September 29, 2010