California: Governor signs ‘Shelby’s Law’ to protect youths who report alcohol abuse

Source: Record Searchlight
By: Scott Mobley
Date: September 29, 2010

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation championed by a Redding family whose daughter died from alcohol poisoning. Assembly Bill 1999 would grant limited immunity from prosecution to underage drinkers seeking medical help for themselves or their peers.Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada/Flintridge) introduced the bill in February, noting several underage drinkers have recently died of alcohol poisoning. They might have survived had their friends not been afraid to call an ambulance, he said.Debbie Allen, whose 17-year-old daughter Shelby Lyn Allen died of alcohol poisoning just before Christmas 2008, has supported and publicized the bill.

“Not everyone will need this,” Allen said. “But some underage drinkers are afraid to get help because they don’t want to get into trouble, and this takes the trouble out of the picture. Whatever it takes to save a life.”
An underage drinker who calls 911 to report possible alcohol poisoning and cooperates with paramedics and law enforcement once they arrive will be immune from prosecution, under the law. Underage drinking is otherwise a misdemeanor.

AB 1999 is a companion to another bill Schwarzenegger signed in August that eliminates immunity for adults who knowingly supply alcohol to minors. Allen and her husband, Steve, had also sought the “social host” law, written by Los Angeles Democrat Mike Feuer. Shelby Allen, a popular Foothill High School junior, was found dead on a bathroom floor at the home of Wallace and Debby Liberman east of Redding.

Shelby Allen died after a bout of intense drinking with the Libermans’ now 18-year-old daughter and another teen. The rest of the Liberman family slept upstairs while the teens drank, sheriff’s deputies said.
Shasta County prosecutors had charged the Liberman teen with involuntary manslaughter in Allen’s death, but a juvenile court judge dismissed the case in November. The Record Searchlight has not identified the teen because she was a minor when her friend died. Shelby Allen became ill after drinking 15 shots of vodka in about an hour, according to a court document.

Allen’s two friends took her into the bathroom where she vomited into the toilet. Allen eventually passed out on her knees with her head resting on the toilet seat. The girls put a towel under her so she could lie on it, the document said. The Liberman teen stayed with Allen until she believed her friend was fine and checked on her two times before morning. Allen had not moved, according to the court document. The third girl, who had also become ill, checked Allen later in the morning and thought she wasn’t breathing, according to the court document.

An older sister of the Liberman teen alerted her father, who called 911 and began CPR.


Learn how to how to prevent underage drinking in an alcohol establishment.

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