Girgenti Measure Looks To Save Lives Through Amnesty Program

Senator John A. Girgenti (D-Passaic and Bergen)

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 Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“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.”

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration. ###

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