For many Texas students, drinking is often a part of college life. Sometimes, however, students' alcohol consumption can get out of hand. Excessive drinking can lead to major medical problems and occasionally even death.

Texas authorities take underage drinking very seriously. But sometimes when drinking becomes unsafe, minors hesitate to call medical help because they do not want to be penalized for drinking. In 2008, one Texas native died for this very reason. Now, in an effort to combat this problem and reward minors for doing the right thing, lawmakers are working toward passing a bill that would grant immunity from penalties for underage drinkers who seek help in a medical emergency.

One Texas senator was prompted by the 2008 tragedy to find a way to make sure that individuals facing severe alcohol poisoning or other alcohol-related medical problem get the medical attention necessary to ensure their safety. The senator says he hopes the bill will prompt minors to make the right decision to seek medical help when necessary and to not second guess that decision in fear of being penalized for drinking illegally.

The bill was passed in the Texas Senate in recent weeks and is being heard by a House committee. If the bill is made law, a minor who has been drinking will be able to seek medical attention for someone else and not be penalized. The bill states that the individual who sought help must remain with the injured person until emergency personnel arrive.

The proposed legislation has received support from parents as well as other state departments, including the Texas Department of Public Safety. It will be interesting to see if the bill is passed into law.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Effort to give immunity to minors in alcohol emergencies passes Senate," Patricia Kilday Hart, 21 April 2011