Alex and Calvin’s Law went into effect on October 1, 2016. The law is named for Alex Murk and Calvin Li, two 18-year-old Wootton High School seniors tragically killed in a drunk driving crash on June 26, 2015, after leaving an underage drinking party hosted by a classmate’s father. Alex and Calvin’s Law, which applies to adults who knowingly allow underage drinking in their homes, allows courts to impose not only a fine of up to $2,500.00 per offense, but also jail time. Maryland became the 27th state to include the possibility of jail time for adults charged with hosting teenage underage drinking parties.
The bill’s sponsor, Montgomery County Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, stated that “for the first time in Maryland history, we actually have ramifications for underage drinking parties.”
Kenneth Saltzman, the adult host of the underage drinking party Alex and Calvin attended, was fined the maximum penalty of $5,000.00. The intoxicated driver of Alex and Calvin’s vehicle, Sam Ellis, pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter. The court sentenced Ellis to four years in prison with parole eligibility after one year served. The prosecutor and the victims’ families had asked for a twelve-year sentence.
The tragedy of losing one’s child is too devastating to put into words. Pam Murk, Alex’s mother, observed that Ellis showed little remorse for his actions. The Murks refused Ellis’ apology letter. Calvin Li’s family did not attend the sentencing hearing.
Our judicial system only provides for financial penalties and prison sentences – – inadequate consequences for grieving families. However, we hope that Alex and Calvin’s Law will bring change. We hope it will stop parents from hosting underage drinking parties and prevent further deaths. Parents may think that by supervising teens consuming alcohol, they are safer. But this is not the case. That false sense of security results in teens drinking more than they would have had they been out in public. This new Maryland law makes clear that parents who allow underage teenage drinking parties will be punished.