Posted at: 03/15/2013 6:39 PM
Updated at: 03/15/2013 10:54 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
Bill Would Protect Underage Drinkers Who Seek Medical Attention
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The weekend is near and with St. Patty’s on the minds of many. So too is the well-being of those who will be drinking, including those underage.
Teens and drinking can be a dangerous mix, but even more so when they don’t want to seek medical attention if something goes wrong because they’re worried about getting in trouble.
An underage drinker could avoid something like a minor consumption ticket if they themselves sought medical attention or helped a friend to get medical attention.
"To be in that situation is incredibly terrifying,” said Daniel Scoglund.
That terrifying situation was a night of drinking that went wrong. 20-year-old Scoglund, then 18, was at a party with friends. One of the friends left for a while and when he came back.
"He was zoning out, he um, started to complain that he didn't feel good and he started to fall asleep,” said Scoglund.
But no ambulance was called and there was no trip to the emergency room. Daniel was worried about getting in trouble.
"It really was stressful to have to vacillate do we call an ambulance or do we not,” said Scoglund.
A proposed bill wants to make that decision easy. The bill would provide immunity for underage possession or consumption of alcohol for a person seeking help for themselves or another at a health facility or detox program for any immediate health concern; or initiates contact with law enforcement, emergency medical services, or 911. The person would have to be the first person to make such a report, provide a name and contact information, remain on scene until help arrived and cooperate with authorities. The person who receives medical attention would also be immune from prosecution.
"If we knew that we wouldn't get in trouble and that our friend could get help in the situation that we could help them um.. I think that would've helped quite a bit,” said Scoglund.
Olmsted County Sheriff David Mueller recognizes the benefits of the bill, but says there are also downfalls.
"We don't wanna sanction illegal behavior either so we don't wanna go out there and say yup, it's okay for juveniles to consume alcohol and then feel like they know if I do the right thing my friend that's really in serious trouble, that can't excuse that behavior,” said Mueller.
It’s a double edged sword that even Daniel recognizes.
“On the one hand it does protect those who get in these situations who really need the help, but on the other hand, it acts a safety blanket for those that will abuse it,” said Scoglund.
Daniel’s friend was okay, but he says that experience was a wake-up call. He says he and his friends are now, much more careful.