State Bar of Texas
January 27, 2012

Contact:  Kim Davey, kdavey@texasbar.com, 800.204.2222 x 1713 or 512.427.1713

Texas Young Lawyers Association Addresses Underage Binge Drinking with “The Unconscious Truth”

AUSTIN – The Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA) is launching “The Unconscious Truth:  Physical and Legal Effects of Underage Binge Drinking.”

TYLA President Natalie Cobb Koehler became interested in the issue when she read about the 2008 death of Shelby Allen. Allen was a vivacious and articulate 17-year-old athlete and honor student. She attended a party where she drank 15 shots of vodka. When she became ill and passed out, her friends let her “sleep it off.” In the morning, she was pronounced dead. The cause was acute alcohol poisoning.

“We wanted to make young adults and their parents aware of not only the legal liabilities involved with underage binge drinking, but also the more tragic physical consequences, like death or permanent brain damage, that can result from alcohol poisoning,” said TYLA Community Education Committee Chair Brooke Ulrickson Allen.

Binge drinking is generally defined as consuming five or more drinks for males and four drinks for females during a two-hour period. Binge drinking is a leading preventable cause of death in the United States and is responsible for more than half of the 79,000 excessive drinking-related deaths each year. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2008, 2.3 million people between the ages of 12 and 20 engaged in binge drinking five or more times per month.

Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person’s blood alcohol concentration becomes dangerously elevated, which can slow or stop involuntary actions such as breathing, heartbeat and gag reflex.

Koehler reached out to Shelby Allen’s parents, who run Shelby’s Rules, an alcohol poisoning education foundation, and they worked with TYLA on creating “The Unconscious Truth” to help educate others about the dangers.

The program also contains information about Texas Senate Bill 1331, the “911 lifeline” law that grants immunity from prosecution to 911 callers who suspect someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Kirk Watson, a former TYLA president.

The program is funded by a grant from the Texas Bar Foundation. Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $13 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably funded bar foundation.

“The Unconscious Truth” will be available soon at www.tyla.org and on DVD. Contact TYLA at 800.204.2222 ext. 1529 to request a copy.

TYLA, widely recognized as the public service arm of the State Bar of Texas, develops programs designed to assist Texas attorneys in the practice of law and provides legal education to Texans as a public service. TYLA’s main purposes are to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. All licensed Texas attorneys who are 36 years old or younger or who are in their first five years of licensure regardless of age, are automatically members of TYLA.

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