Youth faced with a case of alcohol poisoning would be able to call for help without fear of being prosecuted under a bill advancing in the Unicameral.
LB 439 would provide limited legal immunity to youth who make an emergency call when they or a friend have had too much to drink.
Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln sponsors the bill, telling colleagues during legislative floor debate a minor would receive immunity only if they stay on the scene and cooperate fully with law enforcement when medical help arrives.
Morfeld says too many youth won’t make that call now, because they fear they will be arrested for possession of alcohol.
“If the passage of this bill can save one life and encourage one person to make the call for medical assistance when it is needed, then it will be worth it,” Morfeld says during floor debate.
Sen. Kathy Campbell of Lincoln says it is critical that if you believe someone has had too much to drink that you not leave that person.
“And while this is preached over and over again, so often young people feel that they cannot stay with that person nor take them to the hospital nor call 9-1-1, because of the penalties that they would incur,” according to Campbell.
Sen. Paul Schumacher of Columbus says the measure will encourage youth to seek help rather than to run from a bad situation.
“This bill is common sense,” Schumacher says. “We do what we can to keep young people from alcohol, but we all know the reality of life and we know that these circumstances arise. This thing can save lives.”
Immunity does not extend beyond a charge of minor in possession of alcohol.