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. 6308.1. The caller AND the person needing medical assistance are immune from prosecution IF certain conditions are met. 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:

  1. 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
  2. he/she reasonably believed that he/she was the first person to seek medical assistance for a person to prevent death or serious injury
  3. he/she provided his/her name to the 911 operator, police, or emergency personnel
  4. 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 Public Drunkenness or a misdemeanor offense of Furnishing Alcohol to Minor, can still be filed by the police. Or, if the police respond to the call for assistance and see marijuana, controlled substances, or drug paraphernalia in plain view, drug possession charges can also be filed.  The criminal immunity protections only apply to the Underage Drinking charge.

Charges May Be Filed

Many police officers do not like alcohol or drug immunity laws because they believe that it allows habitual users to avoid accountability and break the law without any punishment. Therefore, some officers file charges and force the person to fight for immunity in court. Attorney Jason Dunkle has 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, get a FREE CONSULTATION by sending an email or by leaving a message at (814) 689-9139.