Medical amnesty law passes the Minnesota House

Liebling: Don’t let fear stop you from calling these folks. (tsaiproject via Flickr)

A while back I reported on college students’ efforts to get a “medical amnesty” law passed for the state. It would essentially protect underage drinkers from prosecution — under certain conditions — if they had to call authorities or 911 for help.

It passed the House today by a huge margin, and is now going on to the Senate.

Here’s an announcement by the chief author of the legislation in the House, Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester):

Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Medical Amnesty Bill (HF 946) on a bipartisan vote of 124-8. The bill allows a person under the age of 21 who consumes or possesses an alcoholic beverage to contact a 911 operator to report a medical emergency without the risk of being ticketed for underage consumption.

“Every year we hear stories of underage drinkers in need of medical attention dying because their friends were afraid to call the 911. This bill tells young people we care more about their health than any punishment they might incur,” said Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL – Rochester), who sponsored the legislation.

The bill is narrowly focused to deter underage drinkers from abusing the law. Under the bill, the person who initiates the contact must be the first person to report the emergency, provide their name and contact information, remain at the scene until assistance arrives, and cooperate with the authorities at the scene in order for this provision to apply.

The bill would not protect underage drinkers from other alcohol-related charges such as drunk driving.

Minnesota would be the 11th state to pass a Medical Amnesty Bill. California, New York, Colorado, North Dakota, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah all have similar laws.