Anyone under 21, who calls 911 to help a drunk friend, would have legal immunity from underage drinking charges under SB 448. Senator John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) is the prime sponsor, and he thanked his colleagues on the Senate floor, following this week’s unanimous vote. “This is a bill designed for good Samaritans to save lives, in a much-needed cause.”
It has the support of organizations like the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and Students Against Destructive Decisions. “It’s better for them to have the opportunity to get the help for their peers, and to have a way to resolve it amongst themselves, that they’re not going to be liable for this,” says state coordinator for SADD Felicity Debacco-Erni. She says underage drinking is a serious charge, and this bill addresses a serious issue. “It’s a decision that unfortunately a lot of students are making not to get the help, because they’re fearful of their own legal issues that will come into play.”
In a statement, Senator Rafferty said he doesn’t want to give minors a free pass, but neither does he want to discourage those who can help from seeking assistance. The 911 caller must provide their name, and must remain on scene until emergency assistance arrives. Before it gets to the governor’s desk, SB 448 must next pass the State House. It’s now awaiting action in the House Judiciary Committee.