OLYMPIA, Wash. – Calls to 911 for underage drinkers suffering from alcohol poisoning would not prompt police charges if a bill in Olympia passes. Tuesday, Washington lawmakers heard testimony on a measure that would allow young partiers to get help without penalty.
Currently, teens sent to the hospital after a hard night of drinking could find themselves in trouble with the law. Democratic Rep. Marko Liias said his bill would help young people avoid death by alcohol poisoning.
“Ultimately, if we don’t provide some kind of immunity and some kind of assistance, we can inadvertently turn minor in possession into a death penalty.”
Not all of Liias’ colleagues were convinced. Republican Brad Kippert, a former deputy sheriff, said this bill would give a free ride to underage drinkers.
“So it’s like we’re encouraging kids, if you’re gonna drink, you might as well drink and get totally hammered, because that’s the only way you’re going to get off.”
Sheriffs and police chiefs favor the measure. This bill would only protect those who seek medical help. Any other actions while under the influence, such as drunk driving, would still lead to cops intervening.
On the Web:
HB 1404: Alcohol poisoning bill - Washington Legislature