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Despite many attempts to curb underage drinking, it’s an inevitable fact that teenagers will find a way to get drunk. Hell, I’ve been drinking since I was 17, and looking back on the past 11 years makes me realize just how ridiculous my friends and I once were (let alone the fact that we’ve been drinking for a very long time).
I’m in no way glamorizing underage drinking, but simply relating to the information at hand – pending a signature from Governor Bruce Rauner, Illinois may pass a bill that would pardon underage drinkers (and their friends) who call 911 for alcohol-related emergencies. However, it’s up to the attending police officer to determine whether or not to grant amnesty.
The bill, officially referred to as HB1336, is meant to mirror similar legislation that intended for heroin overdose victims. As the Chicago Sun-Times notes, the purpose of the bill “signals to parents and young people that it’s safe to do the right thing,” according to HB1336 supporter Rep. Kelly Cassidy.
However, if the bill is officially passed, it serves as a double-edged sword that will send mixed messages to Illinois teens: “Drinking underage is illegal, but if you get sick and are in need of medical assistance because of you breaking the law, we might give you a pass.” I write this with my tongue in cheek, but that’s basically what it represents. At the same time, it’s progressive for Illinois lawmakers to recognize, acknowledge, and try to adapt with a problem that has been prevalent for years (and will continue to do so for many more) in a manner that will actually assist those who truly need help. I just fear that many teens will see this bill as a “free pass” for them to get drunk without facing legal consequences.
[via Chicago Sun-Times]