Rivers McGraw Act offers options for young adults arrested for DUI and drugs

The arrest of 18 to 21-year-olds for drugs or alcohol may not be the end of the world for those in handcuffs, thanks to a new state law. Now young adults who make those mistakes have options for help through the Rivers McGraw Act.

“I was on my way because Rivers had sent me that message, and I knew something was wrong with my son,” said Lauren McGraw.

Five months after losing her son Rivers McGraw to drug addiction and suicide, Lauren McGraw is elated that Governor Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1089, the Rivers McGraw Act.

It would give two phone calls to anyone under 21 arrested for DUI or drugs. The second call could be to a parent. It also allows law enforcement to offer them treatment options, including mental health treatment.

“I know Rivers would be alive today if he had just felt like there was a way out and that he had not ruined his whole life,” added McGraw. “Rivers obviously had an addiction issue. He had been to treatment and had one DUI, and he panicked when he got another one”.

The Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police had concerns with the bill’s early version. They felt it would have been taxing on law officers to hold them for 48 hours and call their parents, possibly violating the rights of those 18 to 21 years old.

“We think this is a better alternative than calling the parents and will address mental health issues along with addiction,” said MACP President Oxford Police Chief Joey East.

“If all you do is take their money and release them to their friends, then there’s no way that they know what the law is and what they can do about these charges,” added McGraw. “This gives them another chance at their life instead of thinking that it’s over”