Bill AB1301 too harsh for its own good

So let me get this straight; parents that know their kids drink in their home can be imprisoned for a year.
To me, that’s outrageous.

And what’s even worse, the underage drinker, if caught, only needs a BAC of 0.05. This means that if a minor consumes a glass of wine under his or hers parent’s control, the parent is liable for up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Bill AB1301, which is being introduced by Assemblyman Joe Simitian, will send parents or legal guardians to jail for up to a year, if they knowingly allow their minor to consume alcohol in their home. A greater fine or longer jail time will be granted depending on whether the minor consumes alcohol and then drives, or if while at the house, the parent or guardian allows friends of their minor to consume alcohol as well.

Every year Simitian allows citizens in his district to suggest bills. Essentially, Simitian gives the community a voice. Every year three bills are chosen out of hundreds proposed by community members. AB1301 is one of the selected bills, which was proposed by an alcohol abuse counselor in Los Altos.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support parents allowing their kids to drink heavily, but what about the parent that allows his or her child to have a beer or a glass of wine at dinner? The punishment seems harsh for such an innocent deed.

Although the bill has good intentions, it seems to contain faults that leave many responsible parents susceptible to harsh punishments. For example, what if a single parent allows his or her child to consume alcohol, and is in turn sent to prison? What would happen to the child? Where would they live? Who would have custody? Would they live in a foster home? A child raised by a single parent would seem to have enough tension in the home as is. This bill could create more tension and exponentially fuel the problem.

This bill with good intentions seems to have faults that could potentially create traumatic situations for the child. Perhaps the better solution would be to counsel the parent(s)and provide a positive example and create a safe-haven for the child.