Is Time Running Out? …We’re Here To Help

Minors have amnesty for helping alcohol poisoning victims

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

The legal penalties for underage drinking may discourage minors from seeking medical attention for themselves or anyone suffering from alcohol poisoning. But Oregon’s Medical Amnesty Law provides immunity against an underage drinking or possession offense by seeking help for an alcohol poisoning victim. However, this may not be a criminal defense against other offenses or override college policies.

Oregon’s problem

This state ranked tenth in the rate of alcohol fatalities in this country with 12.7 deaths per one million for persons who are 15 years-old and over. In Oregon, 14.8 percent of adults and 17.7 of 11th graders admitted to binge drinking at least once during the previous month. Binge drinking is defined as drinking at least five alcoholic beverages in a row within two hours.

Excessive use of alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning which increases the risk of death. The number of individuals who go to the hospital for over intoxication is much lower than the number suffering from alcohol poisoning.


Fear of getting into to trouble for underage drinking and the inability to spot alcohol poisoning symptoms were the major reasons for not reporting over-intoxication. According to a 2002 Cornell University study, 19 percent of college students said that there was a time when medical care should have been sought for alcohol poisoning but only four percent sought this help.

Medical amnesty and other good Samaritan policies are more popular. Twenty-nine states approved these laws granting minor limited immunity when they seek medical assistance for others and themselves.

Oregon’s medical amnesty law

Oregon’s law passed in 2015. A minor who calls for medical assistance for alcohol consumption may not be prosecuted for underage possession or drinking based upon the evidence of that phone call.

This amnesty does not apply to other crimes, such as drug possession. Also, colleges and schools may also impose penalties unless they have similar policies.

Alcohol poisoning signs

No one should not just sleep off alcohol poisoning. Call 911 immediately if there are any of its signs:

  • Possible head injury or confusion.
  • Loud shouting or vigorous shaking does not awaken the person.
  • Slow or irregular breathing.
  • Weak, very rapid, or very slow pulse.
  • Cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin.
  • Vomiting while the person is passed out and not waking up afterwards.

Take the following actions:

  • Follow 911 dispatch directions.
  • Stay on with 911 until directed to hang up.
  • Stay with the person until help comes.
  • Roll the person on their side to avoid choking on vomit.
  • Do not give any food, water, or medication.

Underage drinking and drug offenses can have serious consequences on a minor’s education, career, and life. Attorneys can help protect their rights.