LOS ANGELES, CA — In recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month in April, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard hosted a teen awareness event today in cooperation with The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility that featured a life-saving lesson about the dangers of underage drinking and drunk driving.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard recognize Alcohol Awareness Month as an opportunity to do more to educate Americans about making responsible decisions regarding beverage alcohol year-round.  It is illegal to consume alcohol under the age of 21.  Adults over 21 who choose to drink should do so responsibly and in moderation.

As part of this effort, Brandon Silveria and his father, Tony, spoke to an estimated 1,200 students about the importance of “making the right choice” about alcohol to students at Huntington Park High School.  For students who are under the age of 21, they emphasized that the only responsible decision is not to drink. Brandon is a young man who was involved in an alcohol-related crash at age 17 just before his high school prom in his hometown of Los Gatos in Northern California.

Congresswoman Roybal-Allard also hosted an evening presentation where parents gathered to hear the Silverias’ story.

“We must do more to keep Los Angeles teens – and teens throughout California – safe and alcohol-free.  I am proud to have Brandon and Tony Silveria with us today to communicate their life-saving message to members of the Huntington Park community,” said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, noting that 2007 National Highway Transportation Safety Administration statistics show that there were 1,155 alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities in California, 139 of these deaths were among youth under 21. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34) is a leading congressional advocate in the fight against underage drinking and a frequent partner of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.

During the presentation, Brandon Silveria told students his compelling story of how as a high school student he had everything a teenager could want—a job, a girlfriend and plans for the future—until he had a few drinks at a party and chose to drive home.  After falling asleep at the wheel, crossing the centerline and crashing into a tree, he was left in a coma for three months and spent several years in rehabilitation.  Brandon was so badly injured that basic motor functions such as walking, talking and swallowing had to be re-learned.  He has permanent brain injury and suffers from dangerous seizures.  Brandon’s presentations continue to receive standing ovations from students across the country.

“What you become depends on the choices that you make,” said Brandon.  “When I was 17, I had a job and a girlfriend.  Because of my crash, I lost both of them.  My hope is that by sharing my experiences with other young people, I can prevent others from being hurt or killed.”

Through educational efforts such as the Silveria lecture and video program, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility educates students across the country about the hazards of underage drinking and driving.  Brandon and his father, Tony, have addressed well over two million high school students nationwide and have been featured on such television programs as “Rescue 911,” NBC’s “Today,” as well as media outlets across the country.

“In California in 2007, 1,626 youths under age 18 were arrested for driving under the influence, 5,579 youths were arrested for liquor law violations, and 4,638 youths were arrested for drunkenness (2008 FBI Uniform Crime Report),” said Dana Fudurich of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking.  “Our goal with this presentation is to raise awareness about this serious problem, and by doing so, save lives in California. I’m pleased we were invited to Huntington Park High School today and I am hopeful that Brandon and Tony’s words will resonate with the students.”

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard is a leading congressional advocate in the fight against underage drinking.

She is the author of the Support 21 Act of 2009 (HR 1028), which authorizes a new highly visible media campaign to educate the public about underage drinking laws and build support for their enforcement.  It asks the National Academy of Sciences to provide a report to Congress about the influence of drinking alcohol on the development of the adolescent brain.  The legislation authorizes supplemental grant funds to current and former Drug Free Community grantees to work with pediatric health care providers and parents to reduce underage drinking.  Additional grants are also provided to assist pediatric medical organizations in educating providers on best practices for screening their adolescent patients, doing brief interventions, and making appropriate referrals.  Finally, the bill will establish a new focus in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on underage drinking surveillance and prevention.  

The Support 21 Act of 2009 builds upon earlier national underage drinking legislation authored by Congresswoman Roybal-Allard.  The STOP Underage Drinking Act (P.L. 109-422) – which

was signed into law in December of 2006 – makes permanent an Ad Council national media campaign directed at parents that started in 2005.  The measure coordinates all federal programs and research initiatives on underage drinking, and provides grants to institutions of higher education, states and non-profit organizations to combat underage drinking in communities. The STOP Act also supports crucial research on the health effects of underage drinking and requires the federal government to produce an annual status report on underage drinking in our country.

In recognition of Congresswoman Roybal-Allard’s longstanding efforts to eliminate underage drinking, she has been nationally honored by many organizations, including The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking.  Founded in 1991, The Foundation is funded by distillers.  For more information on The Foundation and its mission, please log onto www.responsibility.org.

# # #
Matthew B. Harakal
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
(202) 637-0077