Girgenti Measure Looks To Save Lives Through Amnesty Program

Senator John Girgenti on the floor of the Senate

TRENTON � Legislation sponsored by Senator John A. Girgenti to grant legal amnesty for underage drinkers who call for help in an alcohol-related medical emergency was unanimously approved today by the full Senate.

�Minors faced with a medical emergency stemming from excessive drinking often don�t call for help,� said Senator Girgenti, D-Bergen and Passaic and Chairman of the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans� Affairs Committee. �They hesitate because calling an ambulance may lead to charges for alcohol use or possession. This legislation is intended to solve this problem by exempting minors who call 9-1-1 in a medical emergency from prosecution under the State�s underage drinking laws.�

This bill, S-2748, would establish an amnesty policy for underage drinkers who call for help in an alcohol-related emergency. The bill would also provide immunity for the underage person who receives medical assistance.

Senator Girgenti stated that this �Lifeline Legislation,� as it is known, would provide an underage person immunity from prosecution under the underage drinking laws if they called 9-1-1, reported that another underage person was in need of medical assistance due to alcohol consumption, remained on the scene and cooperated with medical responders and law enforcement personnel.

�This is in no way a State-sponsored green light to drink,� said Senator Girgenti. �By doing nothing we are enabling dangerous behavior and forcing minors to hide many emergency situations. This bill will increase the likelihood that an alcohol-related medical emergency will be treated for what it is, and increases the chances that the patient and the persons who called for help will seek treatment.�

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