Pa. ‘good Samaritan’ law will shield those who aid drunken youths

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign a “good Samaritan” bill into law soon. It is an effort to stem the dangerous effects of underage drinking by encouraging people to report seriously intoxicated minors to authorities.

    State Sen. John Rafferty was skimming through his fraternity magazine one day when he noticed the tragic story of an inebriated young man who died from choking on his own vomit. Rafferty, who represents parts of Bucks and Montgomery counties, recalls wondering about the friends who abandoned the youth in his time of need.

    “Had he gotten medical attention, had they gotten him to a hospital instead of just leaving him …” Rafferty. “Because the implications were that they could get in trouble. My thinking was, perhaps this young man’s life could have been saved.”

    Rafferty, who said he started seeing more reports about the increase in binge drinking, conducted hearings on the issue. That spurred him to take a new look at Pennsylvania’s laws.

    This year, three sessions after Rafferty introduced the “good Samaritan” bill, it  unanimously passed.

    The measures shields any friend or stranger who picks up the phone to report an underage drinker who is ill or in difficulty–and then stays with the intoxicated individual until help arrives–from prosecution. However, anyone who purchases alcohol for underage drinkers will face charges.

    Rafferty said he hopes the new law will inspire more people to ask for help.

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