Minnesota Considering “Medical Amnesty” Bill For Underage Drinkers

drinking

In Minnesota legislators are considering a bill that would waive legal consequences for underage drinkers in medical emergencies, the idea being that underage drinkers who go to success might forgo needed medical attention out of fear of getting arrested.

Minnesota (WDAY TV) — A Minnesota bill that passed through two legislative committees would protect underage drinkers from prosecution in a medical emergency.

The so-called “medical amnesty” bill aims to remove barriers to highly-needed medical attention for things like alcohol poisoning. …

It waives legal punishment if a minor who has been drinking needs to call for emergency medical service. …

A Minor in Consumption is a misdemeanor in Minnesota, and the consequences could be up to 90 days in jail or a 1000-dollar fine. For high school and college students, it could also cost a scholarship or extracurricular participation. So, there is a lot to consider, and any hesitation could be critical.

This is a good idea, as far as it goes, but it’s addressing a symptom of the root problem. What’s driving a lot of underage drinking, especially drinking to excess, is the prohibition on underage drinking itself. By making underage drinking illegal we’ve created a taboo that teens enjoy breaking.

It runs contrary to how many people thinking of this issue, but the solution is to get rid of the taboo. Make underage drinking legal. Let parents teach their kids how to deal with alcohol responsibly. Not all parents will do a good job of it, of course, but as the law stands right now parents have little leeway in this area at all.

In fact, here in North Dakota legislation has advanced to make the penalties for parents providing alcohol to their kids even stiffer.

While Minnesota is loosening their prohibition on underage drinking in the hope of saving some lives, here in North Dakota we’re doubling down on bad policy.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • SportsDoc

    But don’t the Feds have the states hands tied on this one? Isn’t the Fed matching (80%) funds for highway projects tied to drinking ages of 21 by participating states?

    • headward

      That is correct. Something like you lose 10 or 20% if you don’t have the age at a min of 21. Nothing like federal blackmail.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Sounds like another reason to be as independent of the federal government as possible.

    • JoeMN

      This blackmail was a part of Federal funding for .08 laws as well.

      As far as the age limit, a study is regularly cited by MADD of “independent research” done by James Fell that a 21 drinking age saves lives ?

      http://www.madd.org/underage-drinking/why21/

      However Mr Fell serves on it’s board of directors.

      http://activistcash.com/person/1959-james-fell/

      But when the entirety of the laws effects are studied, drinking related fatalities are merely shifted, 19 to 21 age categories saw a slight decrease, while the 21-24 age categories saw an increase

      http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/regulation/1987/7/v11n2-8.pdf

  • headward

    Stiffen the penalties on alcohol related offensives then the deaths and arrests go up. Groups say that we need to make the penalties worse and the cycle begins.

  • Gern Blanston

    Dinking to success? Excess?

    • KJUU

      Is Rob posting from his iPhone again? Damn You Auto Correct!

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        Ha, no, maybe it was a freudian slip!

        I fixed it though.

  • borborygmi

    Yet all those people who can drink legally still drive drunk and they don’t have any taboo. WHy is that Rob?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Maybe they’re exercising behaviors learned in childhood.

      But really, has the underage drinking laws really put a dent in underage drinking? In the House during debate over an underage drinking bill someone said 20% of booze sales in this state end up going to underage kids.

      What, exactly, are we accomplishing?

      • borborygmi

        So you propose making driving drunk legal perhaps just letting social and health issues put the pressure on not driving drunk?

        • Hal801

          Borborygmi, you seem to have a problem with your reading comprehension again. Please show where he EVER advocated legalizing drunk driving?

          • borborygmi

            NOT questioning that he is advocating anything. Laws are made to punish or prevent. They are a codification of social values. He feels the laws don’t work, so do you eliminate certain laws as they don’t have the desired affect and just let social pressure take over. THe codification is to prevent an uneven application of punishment and for lawyers it gives them the guidelines they need to prosecute and defend and sue.
            I guess he has floated the idea that some laws aren’t neccessary, so if that is true which ones if any are needed?

    • slackwarerobert

      Because the prosecutor won’t prosecute and jail the drunk representatives. That and you don’t require drivers to take the driving test drunk, then you could have safe drunks on the roads. If you can drive drunk, then driving sober is a piece of cake.

  • Hal801

    90 days in jail or $1000 fine for a minor in possession? Seems quite extreme to me.

    • slackwarerobert

      Why do you need to bring the bottle with you to the hospital? There is no possession unless you have it on your person, in your person is at best consumed, and you would need a witness to the crime when it was possesed to prove anything. Even fatty arbunkle just dropped the bottle to destroy any evidence,

      • $53594500

        zimmerman was lying but you believe him and take his statements as gospel. i saw today the inconsistancies in his testimony

        • slackwarerobert

          Prosecution rested already? Or is he a witness for them as well, all the others keep testifying that he acted properly.
          I don’t take his word as gospel, I take every ones word that all say the same thing. only one saying something different is the family of the thug, and they did not see it. All the third parties are giving the same story, in texas that gets you on the fast lane to the chair when you are guilty.

          • $53594500

            i wish i could place a wager but well see if zimmerman wins .then i’ll kow tow but not before. i heard testimony that suggests differently . the M F is lyin thru his teeth

          • slackwarerobert

            See, you have it backwards, they need to prove it wasn’t self defense. And when everyone from the investigator on down to the people in their homes say it was, I don’t see how you can say otherwise. The alternative is he is a master criminal the likes of lex luthor to have set up such a perfect crime. And to pull it off with no help , he should be hired to go after al queda. Unless you think all the neighbors are in on it as well, and planned their 911 calls. Maybe they even moved trayvon’s house so he got lost and couldn’t find it.

          • $53594500

            wheres was the bushes he was hiding behind? google maps dont show any. the med. examimer said zim wounds were inconsistent with zim. testimony . how come zim was lookin for an address when you could see 1211 on the house.? howd martins arms get under him ?how come martins hands were not bruised from punchin him ? howd martin see the gun in the dark.so many lies so little time. open your eyes

  • slackwarerobert

    Making underage drinking legal is a bad idea, just getting rid of the drinking age will solve the problem better.

    I have never heard of someone refusing to be treated for alcohol poisoning, but you can’t force medical treatment on someone who doesn’t want it. How can a doctor rat you out? Aren’t medical records private in ND? Can’t you get alcohol from drinking mouthwash, that doesn’t have any age restrictions? They even list dosages for underage children on the bottle.
    I always made my own, no way will I pay those crooks hanging outside the liquor store.

  • VocalYokel

    So if I’m an underage boozer in MN and get pulled over, I’ll bet I can dial 9-1-1 before the officer gets to my car.

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