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Texas Senate Passes Bill Giving Immunity to Underage Drinkers

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The Texas Senate this week passed a bill that would give immunity to underage drinkers who are seeking medical help in an emergency. The bill’s sponsor said it is aimed at minors who are afraid to seek help because they do not want to be charged with underage drinking.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the bill would give immunity from minor-in-possession and consumption of alcohol charges. The measure would require the minor to be the first person seeking medical assistance and to stay with the incapacitated person until help arrives.

The incident that inspired the bill was the death of a college student who died during a fraternity hazing incident, bill sponsor Senator Kirk Watson said. The student, Carson Starkey, was forced to drink a large amount of alcohol in a short period, subsequently collapsing. According to the article, some students started to take him to an emergency room but changed their minds. Starkey was found dead the next morning.

The bill would require punishment of people who are convicted of coercing others into drinking alcohol; punishment would include 20 to 40 hours of community service and suspension of the person’s driver’s license for 180 days. A similar bill is under consideration by a Texas House committee.

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