Under new Florida law, underage drinkers won't get punished after calling 911 for help

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Beginning July 1, people drinking under the age of 21 will not face legal consequences if they seek medical help for someone in danger.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law on Friday. 

“Public safety is paramount, and it’s critical our young men and women get the medical attention they need in an emergency,” the governor said in a statement. “This bill helps ensure our young people on campuses will proactively seek medical help for their peers in emergency situations.” 

The bipartisan bill was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Rep. David Silvers (D-West Palm Beach). It is an expansion of the "Good Samaritan Law" passed in 2012 that gives legal immunity to people who call to report a drug overdose. 

“The 'Good Samaritan Law' was an excellent piece of legislation, but it didn’t address a key component -- which was underage drinking,” said Sen. Brandes. “No parent should ever have to experience the heartbreak of learning their child has died of alcohol poisoning.” 

A state report found that in 2017, 282 people younger than 21 lost their lives in alcohol-related deaths. 

“This bill cleared a number of hurdles in order to become law, but now we begin the next phase of our work, which is making sure students know about it,” said Rep. David Silvers. “Fear of getting in trouble should never be a reason that someone doesn’t make that life-saving phone call.” 

“If this law can save even one life, then it will be worth it," said Jalisa White, President of the Florida Student Association. 

With the law going into effect in less than three weeks, its sponsors said the next step is for the state get the word out to students.