COLUMBUS, Ohio – A bill that provides limited immunity to underage Samaritans who seek medical help for dangerously intoxicated persons will be the subject of testimony this week in the Ohio House.
House Bill 201, co-sponsored by state Rep. Michael Stinziano, the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee which is hearing the bill, aims to save lives by providing an underage Samaritan who seeks medical help for someone overdosing on alcohol limited immunity from prosecution. It would also apply if the underage person is asking for emergency medical help for themselves.
The Samaritan would have to use his or her real name in seeking help and would only be protected if authorities find the intoxicated individual solely because of the Samaritan’s efforts.
“People shouldn’t have to be concerned about getting into legal trouble if all they want to do is find medical help for someone who has drunk too much alcohol. This bill will save lives,” said Stinziano, whose district includes several universities and colleges, including The Ohio State University.
Currently, 11 states, including New Mexico, Washington, New York, Connecticut, Colorado, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Maryland and Utah, have statutes that give limited immunity to people under the age of 21 who seek medical help for a person who is dangerously intoxicated. Several Ohio universities have similar policies, but they do not extend into state law.
Studies have shown that when good Samaritan policies are passed, emergency requests for help increase.