Good Samaritan Law Leads to Dismissal of Underage Drinking Charge
Overdose Immunity in Underage Drinking
Client returned to her Penn State dorm room and found her roommate vomiting due to an alcohol overdose. Client was concerned for the roommate’s well-being and sought the assistance of the resident assistant. The resident assistant felt that the roommate would be okay, but Client asked that medical personnel be contacted. The resident assistant contacted 911 and requested medical attention. A Penn State police officer responded to the emergency call. The officer was not informed by the resident assistant that Client had initiated contact and had been the reason that medical attention was sought. The officer issued summary charges of Underage Drinking under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6308 against both the roommate and Client.
At the summary hearing, State College defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle argued that the judge must dismiss the charge or find Client not guilty based upon the immunity from prosecution law, commonly to as the “Good Samaritan” exception to Underage Drinking. Under such laws, a person that seeks medical attention for another underage drinker is immune from prosecution. The caller must believe that medical assistance is required to avoid death or serious injury, and the person must be the first person that contacts 911 or places a call to campus safety, police, or emergency services.
The judge agreed with Attorney Dunkle’s legal argument, ruled that Client’s actions fell under the immunity protections of the Good Samaritan law, so the judge found Client NOT GUILTY. Attorney Dunkle then filed an expungement petition with the Centre County Court to have the dismissed charge removed from Client’s records.