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Could medical amnesty policies help Oklahoma students?

Educational institutions around the nation are instituting policies that provide legal amnesty to underage individuals who call on emergency services for their alcohol-stricken peers. According to observers from the University of Miami and other schools, these policies are designed to help reduce the number of emergency drug and alcohol overdose situations that result in deaths due to students afraid of being charged with underage DUIs or possession charges when authorities arrive to assist.

Advocates of such moves note that medical amnesty polices are already in place in 11 states around the country and at a number of colleges. Analysts say that these rules have helped increase the number of incidents that get reported in time for emergency responders to assist individuals who overdose.

Opponents, on the other hand, argue that students who go to schools with amnesty policies may be tempted to break the law without fear of punishment. Advocates say that this theory isn't backed up by actual statistics, and many schools force students who commit violations to attend extra classes and learn about substance abuse.

Although some states and institutions have medical amnesty policies, students who try to help their injured friends by calling emergency services may still be confronted with criminal charges afterwards. Some even lose future educational or career opportunities because they get convicted of underage possession or other crimes. These penalties can make it difficult for young people to transition into their adult lives, and the ramifications of having a criminal record could stick with them for years.

DUI attorneys who provide court representation may be able to help these individuals by arguing for leniency based on their good intentions or by petitioning judges for alternate penalties that won't jeopardize their futures, such as alcohol-education classes or community service.

Source: USA Today, "'Good Samaritan' policy encourages students to dial 911", Lexy Gross, December 02, 2013

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