Underage drinkers who find themselves or a friend in trouble could call 9-1-1 with no consequences under a bill passed Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Kelli Ward, says S-B 1190 aims to be solution for young drinkers who find themselves in an emergency, but are afraid

of calling police for help.

Ward says youngsters who’ve been drinking must weigh the risks of getting in trouble with the law if they call 9-1-1 in an emergency. The only other alternative,in their view, is don’t seek help, suffer, and avoid a police record.

She says too many choosing the latter dump intoxicated friends off at an E-R, or become silent about being sexually assaulted by a predator taking advantage of their drunken stupor.

Proponents say the bill is needed in light of tragedies such as a drunk A-S-U student who drowned in Tempe Town lake while walking home, and another intoxicated A-S-U student who fell over a railing to her death.

Two lawmakers say a better solution would be a diversion program which can also keep their record clean. They say the blanket immunity approach can be abused. 

The Senate Rules Committee takes up the bill next.

–Barbara Villa