Alcohol Emergency Immunity (Good Samaritan Law) in Pennsylvania

Alcohol Emergency Immunity

The state of Pennsylvania has an alcohol emergency immunity law (Good Samaritan law). It wisely did so to protect the life and health of young people.

The Law

The law provides

alcohol emergency immunityimmunity from prosecution for a person under the age of 21 for the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages if law enforcement, including campus safety police, became aware of the possession or consumption solely because the individual was seeking medical assistance for someone else. The person seeking the assistance must reasonably believe he or she is the first to call for assistance, must use his own name with authorities, and must stay with the individual needing medical assistance until help arrives.

Additional lives could be saved if more states follow in the footsteps of those that have passed similar laws.

Colleges Can Act

alcohol emergency immunityBut colleges and universities don’t need to wait for states to take action. Hundreds have already established their own alcohol emergency immunity policies.

In addition, institutions usually go beyond the mandates of a state law. They typically add intervention and education to reduce the need for Good Samaritan policies.

alcohol emergency immunityAn example is Bucknell University. It provides for an alcohol assessment. In addition, it “Educational opportunities to assist in avoiding future high risk situations.”

To be effective, any alcohol amnesty policy must be widely publicized. It’s essential that all students understand them.


Corbett signs medical amnesty bill into law. Onward State, July 9, 2011.



Gordie Center. Medical Amnesty.

Hoover, E. More colleges offer “amnesty” for drinking violations. Chron High Ed, 2007, 54(17), p. A1.

Marczinski, C., et al. Binge Drinking in Adolescents and College Students. Hauppauge, NY : Nova Science, 2009.

Medial amnesty. Catalyst, 2007, 9(2), 6-7.

Sherwood, J. Alcohol Policies and Practices on College and University Campuses. Washington: Nat. Assn Stud Person Admin, 1997.

Under the influence. Dealing effectively with a drunken student [medical amnesty]. Catalyst, 1996, 2(1), 3.