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Help for underage alcohol poisoning free of criminal charges

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 purpose behind this legislation was to encourage underage individuals to turn to law enforcement when they are involved in or witness underage drinking, rather than doing nothing out of fear for negative legal consequences. The hope is that if underage individuals know that they will be legally protected if they call the police, they will be less likely to flee the scene by driving under the influence. And ultimately, the law was designed to decrease the number of underage individuals who suffer from alcohol poisoning.

Unfortunately, underage individuals have not taken advantage of their legal rights under this legislation, largely due to simple ignorance that the law exists. Young Texans need not fear legal consequences if they call the police about their peers illegally drinking, even if they were drinking themselves. Law enforcement wants to reward young people who do the right thing, not punish them after they've changed their minds about underage drinking.

If you call 911 to help save the life of a friend who might be suffering from alcohol poisoning, you will not face negative legal repercussions. Do not hesitate to protect another's life if you find yourself in this situation. You are legally protected against criminal charges if you turn to the police in order to do a good deed. If you choose to call 911, your peers may panic. If they see you calling the police, ask them to remain calm and remind them of this important law that was designed to protect young Texans from alcohol poisoning.

Source: Dallas News, “For young revelers who get alcohol poisoning, a lifeline in emergencies,” Scott Goldstein, March 13, 2013