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Cutting down on underage drinking deaths with medical amnesty

In 2009, Michigan's House of Representatives took a huge step towards eliminating deaths associated with underage drinking but passing the "Medical Amnesty"-or "Good Samaritan"-bill, which grants amnesty to underage drinkers who seek medical attention for alcohol-related health issues.

With a unanimous vote of 38 to 0 in the House and a 105to 3 in the Senate, the bill passed with overwhelming support. It's a bill that can now account for dozens-if not hundreds-of saved lives since its inception.

With finals week having just wrapped up at many colleges across the state and with students eager to go home for the holidays, last minute parties raise concerns about underage drinking and whether young adults will remember the state's efforts to protect them from criminal charges in the event of alcohol poisoning.

Even though, under Michigan law, it is illegal to purchase, possess or use alcohol while under the age of 21, it's important to point out that this should not deter young adults from seeking medical attention if they fear someone else has consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol.

Although some universities, such as the University of Michigan, have made it a point to include the Medical Amnesty law on their school's websites, with the bill only being six months old, there is a chance that some may not know that in cases where a life is in jeopardy and medical attention is sought, a person will not receive a misdemeanor charge.

It's important to point out that this bill does not promote underage drinking in anyway, contrary to what some critics may think. Rather, it gives young people the option to do the right thing without the fear of punishment.

Source: mlive.com, "Michigan underage drinkers who seek alcohol poisoning help can get medical amnesty under new law," Tim Martin, May 8, 2012

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