When humans become suddenly and overwhelmingly afraid, their biology introduces a fight or flight response into their bodies. Whether it is best to flee or fight is dependent upon the particulars of the frightening situation. Two years ago, Texas lawmakers passed legislation designed to inspire frightened underage drinking buddies to call the police rather than flee the scene if one of their peers seemed to be suffering from alcohol poisoning.
The reasons for the passage of this legislation were numerous. It was thought that passage would decrease the rates of drunk driving by those fleeing the situation, reduce the rates of underage alcohol poisoning deaths and would empower underage individuals to do the right thing without fear of criminal consequences.
Unfortunately, too few underage individuals are aware that this law exists. As a result, preventable alcohol poisoning deaths continue to occur. It is critical that young Texans understand that the law protects them from criminal charges in the event that they need to report suspected alcohol poisoning of a peer, even if they themselves have been drinking illegally.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have been drinking illegally and are witness to suspected alcohol poisoning of another, it is okay to call 911. The law protects you from criminal charges related to your behavior if you are calling to save the life of another. The only caveat is that you must be the first person to call 911 to report the suspected alcohol poisoning in order to receive legal protection. So if this happens to you, do not panic. Tell others in the room that you are calling 911 and that everyone else should remain calm. In doing so, you will remain free from prosecution and may save a life.
Source: Dallas News, “For young revelers who get alcohol poisoning, a lifeline in emergencies,” Scott Goldstein, March 13, 2013