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Proposed Law Offers Pardons for Underage Drinkers Who Call 911

underage drinking, 911 law, Wheaton criminal defense lawyerBetween 2008 and 2012, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that there were nine underage alcohol-induced deaths in the state. This number included only alcohol overdoses, and did not consider the potentially hundreds of deaths caused by other means in which alcohol may have played a role, such as drunk-driving auto accidents. The loss of life due to underage drinking is certainly tragic, and Illinois lawmakers are taking measures aimed at preventing future deaths.

State Representative Scott Drury, D-Highwood, sponsored a bill which passed the Illinois House last month, and was recently introduced in the state Senate. The measure would provide a level of legal protection for underage drinkers who call 911 to help a friend in danger of overdrinking. Nearly two dozen other states have enacted similar legislation, sometimes called Good Samaritan 911 laws, and Illinois law currently provides such protection in drug overdose situations.

Inspired by an alcohol-related death of an underage drinker in his district, Drury sees the proposed law as a way to alleviate some of the fear associated with contacting authorities in an emergency situation. “It does not condone underage drinking at all,” he said. “It just recognizes that underage drinking happens and when it happens and people need help, they should get the help.” He also indicated that the measure would allow law enforcement to determine if a call was made in good faith, rather than to simply avoid trouble.

If enacted, amnesty from underage drinking charges would apply only to the person in need of emergency attention and those who called on that person’s behalf. Groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving and The Medical Amnesty Initiative have come out in support of the legislation so that young people in danger can get the help they need.

Underage drinking can be very dangerous, and penalties associated with convictions can be severe, especially when related to driving under the influence. If you or your child has been charged with underage drinking or DUI, you need a qualified a lawyer who understands the legal system. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Wheaton today. We will evaluate your case and help you understand your options under the law.

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