Fraternity drinking case prompts bill at Legislature

On Nov. 20, 2008, Michael Starks was found not breathing at the fraternity residence for which he had pledged, with a blood alcohol content four times the amount legal to drive.The tragedy was a result of hazing in relation to pledging for Sigma Nu fraternity.Now, just more than a year later, members of the Utah House of Representatives have proposed two bills intended to prevent a repeat incident.Rep. Christine Johnson sponsored HB-277, which is intended to address underage drinking specifically.Johnson said, “The bill will require that if an individual is under the age of 21 and illegally in possession or consuming alcohol, they would be guaranteed that the judge would consider their good deed of reporting emergent medical care as a mitigating factor in their adjudication.”The bill passed through the House Judiciary Committee with a unanimous vote on Feb. 8, then passed unanimously through the House of Representatives on Feb. 17. The bill passed through the Utah Senate with a unanimous vote and has been submitted for signing by state leadership.

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