Youth alcohol bill signed by Governor Perry!

Underage drinkers seeking medical help in an emergency will receive limited immunity from minor in possession and consumption of alcohol charges under a bill signed by the Governor this past weekend.

The measure written by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, aims to encourage young people to seek medical help, especially in the case of potential alcohol poisoning. Watson said young people in such instances often are afraid they will find themselves charged with a crime for participating in underage drinking.

"This says, you are not going to get into trouble for doing the right thing," Watson said. Under the proposal, limited immunity will be granted only to the minor who is the first to seek medical assistance for the incapacitated person and they must stay with the person until help arrives. Watson's bill also includes mandatory punishment of individuals convicted of coercing others into consuming alcohol. Under his bill, judges must require people found guilty of coercing alcohol consumption to perform 20 to 40 hours of community service and to suspend their driver's license for 180 days.

By Patricia Kilday Hart
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