Good Samaritan Law and Pennsylvania Underage Drinking Charges
Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan or immunity from prosecution in Underage Drinking cases is called “Safe Harbor” and is found at 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308.1. In the past, the person that called for medical assistance was often protected from prosecution, but the person that needed the medical assistance was not. Now, the caller AND the person needing medical assistance are immune from prosecution IF certain conditions are met. In order to fall under the protection of the Safe Harbor or Good Samaritan law, the caller for medical assistance must follow certain rules. If the caller does not follow the immunity law requirements, then neither the caller NOR the person needing medical assistance is immune.
Requirements for Immunity from Underage Drinking Prosecution
The Safe Harbor law states that the caller shall not be prosecuted if he/she can show:
- that law enforcement or police only became aware of the underage drinking violation because the caller contacted 911, campus safety, or some other police or emergency services personnel
- he/she reasonably believed that he/she was the first person to seek medical assistance for a person to prevent death or serious injury
- he/she provided his/her name to the 911 operator, police, or emergency personnel
- he/she remained with the person needing medical assistance until emergency responders arrived
Limitations of the Good Samaritan Law
The Safe Harbor protections are limited to Underage Drinking or Possession of Alcohol by a Minor charges under 18 Pa.C.S. 6308. Other alcohol-related criminal charges, such as a summary offense of Public Drunkenness or a misdemeanor offense of Furnishing Alcohol to Minor, can still be filed by the police. If the police respond to the call for assistance and see marijuana, controlled substances, or drug paraphernalia in plain view, misdemeanor possession charges for possession or felony offenses for Possession With Intent to Deliver can, and normally will be, filed. While the caller may not be charged with a summary offense of Underage Drinking, the immunity protection does not prevent the filing of other criminal charges.
Charges May Be Filed
There are some Underage Drinking cases that are filed because an officer does not believe that the Safe Harbor protections apply. The attorneys at the State College criminal defense firm of JD Law have successfully argued for dismissal of charges under the Safe Harbor law for numerous Penn State students charged with Underage Drinking. If you or a loved have been charged with Underage Drinking or another criminal offense, you can get a FREE CONSULTATION by contacting JD Law at (814) 954-7622 or via email.