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"Good Samaritan" Bill in PA House

WDUQ News, Pittsburgh

MONDAY, MAY 30, 2011

“Good Samaritan” Bill in PA House
A bill granting partial immunity to underage drinkers who call the authorities when their friends’ lives are threatened due to alcohol is winning praise from student leaders.

Dan Florencio, the president of Penn State University’s Interfraternity Council, said he’s heard a similar story time after time. “Someone just appeared really, really sick, and people were just like, ‘oh, let him sleep it off.’ Because they don’t want to get anyone in trouble,” he explained. “They don’t want to implicate themselves or the person. So they just let them sleep it off, or brush it off, when really, something really bad could be happening to the person’s body, because of alcohol.”

The council represents 46 fraternities and sororities, which include more than 2,600 students.

The so-called “Good Samaritan” bill, which is currently in front of the House, would offer legal amnesty to underage drinkers who call 911 when their friend drinks too much.

Felicity Debacco Ernie, the state coordinator for Students Against Destructive Decisions, said her group supports the measure, and believes it would solve a recurring problem. “I think it is pretty real, and I think that it is a decision that, unfortunately, a lot of students are making, not to get the help, because they’re fearful of their own legal issues that will come into play then,” she said, adding, “ It’s a very serious consequence for people who are charged with underage drinking these days.”

The bill passed the Senate on a unanimous vote, but it’s not clear if or when the House will take it up.