Last week, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee signed a new law that offers alcohol amnesty to those under the age of 21 who call for medical help for a drunk friend. Neither the caller nor the friend will be charged with minor in possession of alcohol.
Expanding a similar Washington law for drug overdoses, which was passed in 2010, the new legislation removes the fear of prosecution to encourage minors to seek medical help for themselves or a friend who has had too much to drink. The law was proposed after a recent string of alcohol-poisoning deaths at the state’s universities.
Washington joins 11 other states in passing what’s known as the alcohol “good Samaritan” law. The Medical Amnesty Initiative, established in 2012 to encourage other states to pass the law, actively pushed the proposal in Washington. According to the organization’s founder, Aaron Letzeiser, six more states are in the process of approving some version of the law.
While an increasing number of states are embracing the alcohol “good Samaritan” law, legislators in opposition worry the policy will also encourage underage drinking. However, Letzeiser points out that the initiative group nor the law support underage drinking. Underage drinking is always going to exist, but enacting a policy like the alcohol “good Samaritan” law can help save lives.