July 31, 2014

Bill provides breaks to underage drinkers who call for help

Legislation designed to encourage underage drinkers to call for help for dangerously intoxicated friends received a public hearing at the Capitol on Thursday. The proposal mirrors a policy already in place at UW Eau Claire and UW Madison, across the Big 10, and in at least 17 states. Basically, a ticket for underage drinking would be off the table, for anyone under age 21 who calls for help for another underage drinker is in trouble.

“We’re asking young people – although they’ve made a bad choice to drink underage – to make a responsible choice to help someone in need,” said state Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan).

In addition to removing the threat of a ticket for underage drinking, provisions of the bill (AB-256) would apply to UW System students, who could not be removed from courses, suspended or expelled, or be kicked out of campus housing. Other sanctions available to administrators would remain in place. Several students testified in favor of the bill.  The no ticketing provision in the bill would apply to any underage drinkers, whether they are UW students or not, and that would have statewide implications. A companion measure is being offered in the Senate by Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison).