Minnesota lawmakers consider underage drinking immunity in medical emergencies

Minnesota students are working with state lawmakers on a measure that would provide immunity to underage drinkers who report a medical emergency, in specified circumstances. Many college students say that teens and 20-year-olds feel reluctant to report a medical emergency if people have been drinking due to the prospect of prosecution for an alcohol offense.

In 2012, a survey at the University of Minnesota revealed that 11 percent of students said that it would be somewhat to very unlikely that they would call police if they could not wake someone up who was under the influence.

The Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition seeks to change Minnesota law to allow for immunity for the person having a medical problem while under the influence if someone makes the 911 call. Many colleges and universities, including Winona State and Minnesota State University in Mankato have amnesty policies to address campus disciplinary action after a medical emergency. Students wish to see similar attention to prevent prosecution in limited circumstances in a medical emergency.

The Minnesota Sheriff’s Association reportedly is opposed to any amnesty, even in a medical emergency. The executive director of the association says that officers may use discretion in a medical emergency and decide not to issue a citation. One of the authors of the House bill is a police officer. The St. Paul representative says that, “I want my daughter to know that it’s OK to call me, call the police, call someone for help, or get someone to call for help,” according to the Post-Bulletin.

The bill apparently does not go so far as to address immunity on the road, but the actual language of the measure was not included in the recent newspaper account. The students are seeking to address Minnesota’s underage consumption legislation in the measure.

Underage drinking citations are generally a misdemeanor level offense under Minnesota law. However, any alcohol-related offense-from underage possession to underage consumption to underage DWI can have additional consequences if a conviction is entered, including collateral consequences that can impact academic, work or military opportunities down the road, to name a few.

Source: Post-Bulletin. “Legislation would give amnesty to underage Minnesota drinkers,” Alex Friedrich, March 18, 2013

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.
Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
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