Governor Inslee signed a bill into law this last week that would essentially give minors immunity against a minor in possession criminal charge if they seek medical help for an overdose. I guess the theory behind the bill is the following. A couple minors are having a few beers. One of the minors gets so intoxicated that the friends believe the minor is suffering from alcohol poisoning. They choose not to call the police or 911 because they are worried they will get in trouble because they have been drinking too. Without emergency medical help the minor with the alcohol poisoning either dies or is severely injured.
This law approved by the Legislature last month is meant to prevent something like that from happening. As a Seattle DUI Lawyer it is an interesting idea. As a parent I think it is a wonderful idea. As a parent if my daughter (when she is old enough) was with some friends and they were too afraid to call 911 because they didn't want to get in trouble, I would think this type of law would make it so they would call 911. But my hesitation with it is I think it is kind of irrelevant.
I have represented many individuals charged with a Seattle Minor in Possession charge. Not once has it ever been because there was alcohol in my clients system. It usually occurs when a minor is at a house party, or at a park and they are drinking in public. A police officers comes and gives them citations because the alcohol is in plain view. I would think there would be some legal issues if a MIP was charged when there was no evidence of actual alcohol other than on the persons breath or in their system.
So I don't know how helpful this law would be. I suspect it is more about appeasing the public and like all bills it is probably 99% political. But from a recent Seattle Times article about it there are 12 other States doing this, or have similar types of laws. And it is a problem in college with students drinking too much to the point where they get alcohol poisoning. But like I said I have never heard of someone getting charged with a MIP without the actual physical possession of the alcohol. This is an interesting bill, and given the negative reaction some of the other alcohol related bills recently received for being unfeasible and too expensive this seems like a genuine way to help those in need.