Assemblywoman Sharon Runner’s (R-Lancaster) legislation to increase the penalty for providing alcohol to minors failed to pass the Senate Public Safety Committee Tuesday on a party-line vote.
Assembly Bill 454 would have made this crime punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony, based on the severity of the case, when a minor is provided alcohol and subsequently kills or severely injures himself or someone else.
“Irresponsible adults are taking the lives of our children and today the Senate Public Safety Committee failed to take action and failed the families of our state,” Runner said. “I dubbed this bill “Jeffrey’s Law” in memory of one of the youths taken from his mother when an adult provided a teen driver with alcohol. Until our state chooses to send a clear message to adults that providing alcohol to minors has serious consequences, we can expect these tragedies to continue.”
The issue was brought to the attention of Assemblywoman Runner when Barbara McClanahan of the San Bernardino District Attorney’s office contacted her about a case in her district. In February of 2003, a 41 year old woman provided alcohol to a group of minors and allowed them to drive off in a Ford Expedition. When the intoxicated 18 year old driver crashed the vehicle after running a stop sign, the aftermath left 11 individuals dead or severely injured including a slain 18 year old adult, and a lifeless 17 year old minor, Jeffrey Trylch, whom AB 454 is named after. Tragically, the woman who supplied the alcohol to the minors had been previously reported to law enforcement, by Jeffrey’s mother, for a similar incident. Unfortunately, under current law the woman who provided alcohol to the driver of the vehicle could only be charged with a misdemeanor and upon conviction she received 180 days in County Jail that she serves on weekends and a $110 fine for restitution to the victims.
Jeffrey’s mother, Christine “Tina” Trylch, organized the delivery of over 500 letters to the State Capitol and made her second trip to Sacramento, from her Hesperia home, in order to share her story with Committee Members. Following the hearing, Trylch reflected, “Two years ago I lost my child. Today, that pain returned because this Committee’s decision will result in other mothers losing children. I don’t know who these Senators represent, but it’s not law-abiding parents.”
“My heart goes out to Tina and the mothers and families of those children who have suffered unimaginable pain as a result of alcohol provided to minors,” Runner stated. “I know nothing can bring these children back, but we in the legislature ought to do everything we can to prevent it from happening to others in the future.”