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Md. General Assembly passes ‘Alex and Calvin’s’ bill

(The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

(The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

ANNAPOLIS – The General Assembly on Monday passed legislation that would permit parents and other adults to be jailed for up to one year for providing alcohol to or hosting drinking parties attended by those under the legal drinking age of 21 who become impaired and seriously injure themselves or others in driving from the event.

The measure, dubbed “Alex and Calvin’s Law,” was spurred by the deaths of two recent high school graduates who were killed in a drunken-driving crash after attending an underage drinking party. Supporters of the legislation called it obscene that the adult who hosted the party was merely assessed a fine and faced no potential jail time under current law.

The Senate passed the measure on a 45-0 vote. The House vote was 123-15.

With the General Assembly’s approval, the measure now goes to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature or veto. If enacted, the law would go into effect Oct. 1.

Alex Murk and Calvin Li, recent graduates of Rockville’s Thomas S. Wootton High School, were passengers in a car driven last June by Samuel Ellis, 19, who police said was legally drunk while approaching speeds of 100 miles per hour on Dufief Mill Road in North Potomac — where the fatal single-car crash occurred.

Ellis pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of vehicular manslaughter. He faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 3.

Kenneth Saltzman, who police said hosted more than 20 underage drinkers at his North Potomac home, pleaded guilty to two counts of furnishing alcohol to individuals under age 21 and paid a $5,000 fine.

Saltzman had broken a state law prohibiting adults from “knowingly and willfully” allowing someone under age 21 from possessing or consuming an alcoholic beverage at the adult’s residence. The statute, which currently carries no jail sentence, makes exceptions for members of the adult’s immediate family and for participants in a religious ceremony.

In passing the stricter criminal sanction of jail, legislators declined to address whether parents, or other adults, who host underage drinking parties could be held civilly liable for harm caused by or to their inebriated guests who get into a car. However, Maryland’s top court has recently heard two cases addressing whether the state’s common law provides for such civil liability.

The Court of Appeals is expected to render its decisions by Aug. 31. The two cases are Nancy Dankos (F/K/A Nancy Davis) v. Linda Stapf, No. 55 September Term 2015, and Manal Kiriakos v. Brandon Phillips, No. 20 September Term 2015.