Senate Okays "Good Samaritan" Bill
By Kealey Bultena
In Pierre, a measure that gives limited immunity to some underage drinkers is headed for the House.
Lawmakers refer to Senate Bill 141 as the Good Samaritan bill. The legislation prevents underage drinkers from facing misdemeanor charges like minor consumption if they contact authorities to help someone in an alcohol-related emergency.
Republican Senator Eldon Nygaard says committee testimony stressed the importance of that immunity.
"They had shown us photographs and talked about people who had been left because the person who could have saved them by calling or doing something positive was worried about getting arrested," Nygaard says. "And I realize the other side of this coin is the law enforcement side of it, and they already have some discretion to charge or not to charge, but this is just one more statement that we can give as legislators look out for the health and welfare of the citizens of this great state."
The measure does not offer immunity for more serious charges. It passed the Senate with just one dissenting vote.
Member stations download audio file here.