In an effort to address underage drinking and driving lawmakers in several
states have discussed or continue to discuss legislation to help curb the
One of the states to act is Florida, where a new law could
cost people, including parents, their driving privileges for providing alcohol
to underage drinkers.
Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill, SB1322, into law last month
that will allow judges to order the state’s Department of Highway Safety and
Motor Vehicles to withhold issuance, revoke or suspend violators’ licenses for
three to six months for a first offense. Repeat offenders could face up to a
year without driving.
The penalties, which take effect Oct. 1, will be tacked on
to existing $500 fines for supplying alcohol to children.
“Protecting our youth from illegally accessing alcohol is critical
in our fight against underage drinking. We all want to keep Florida’s youth
safe,” Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, said in a written statement.
While officials in Florida prepare for their new law, a
similar effort recently was introduced in the Michigan House.
Sponsored by Rep. Rick Baxter, R-Concord, the Michigan bill would
suspend drivers’ licenses of adults who buy alcohol for minors. Offenders would
face 90 days without a valid license.
Baxter said the penalty is needed as a deterrent because
nearly half of all fatal teen crashes involve alcohol.
The bill – HB6214 – is in the House Transportation
Louisiana’s new law
Not to be outdone, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has signed a bill
into law that will fine or jail adults who let minors drive without a license.
The new rules take effect Aug. 15.
The new law, previously SB222, makes the adult who gives an
unlicensed minor the keys, and the young driver who gets behind the wheel,
subject to fines and jail time.
The new law specifies that if an adult allows an unlicensed
driver under 18 to drive and the youth is involved in a wreck resulting in
injury or death, the adult will face up to six months in jail and/or fines
between $500 and $1,000.
Illegal drivers will face up to six months in jail and/or
fines between $100 and $500 simply for driving without a license. If a youth is
involved in a wreck that results in serious injury or death, they will face up
to six months in jail and/or fines of $500 to $1,000.