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.