New legislation in Washington State is getting some attention lately. If passed, House Bill 1404 will let minors get treated for alcohol poisoning or severe binge drinking without facing underage drinking charges. And friends who call 911 to report a severely intoxicated party pal will also be exempt from charges. The bill is aimed at reducing alcohol poisoning among underage kids.
As it stands, police say dangerous drinking isn't reported because minors are afraid to call an ambulance or the police in case they get charged with underage drinking. So more often than not, someone who passes out at a party is usually left to sleep it off. Or if 911 is called, witnesses usually am-scray before help arrives, meaning no one's around to answer questions that might help the injured party.
Local Mothers Against Drunk Driving advocates question the validity of the bill, saying it just gives kids permission to binge drink. But underage drinking is a reality we all have to face. 11% of all alcohol purchased in the U.S. is consumed by minors and 90% of that is binge drinking. In 2010 alone, there were 189,000 emergency room visits by severely intoxicated minors. It's a 'major' health hazard for them and officials hope the new bill will encourage kids to get help if they need it.
Considering the scope of underage drinking in schools today, I thought this essay from the archives of Cambridge University was a hilarious contrast. Probably not much bingeing on sherry going on in 1849.
Or was there? Check it out from The Guardian.
And here's more about underage drinking concerns from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.