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January 31, 2012 02:12 PM

Immunity For Underage Drinkers Bill Passes Panel


The Senate Judiciary committee has passed an amended bill that would grant limited immunity from arrest for underage drinkers.

The bill pertains only to cases in which the caller is intoxicated at the time of seeking law enforcement help and waits for an officer to arrive.

The bill's prime sponsor, Sen. Larry Tidemann, a Republican from Brookings, says the aim is not to protect all underage consumption but deter teenagers who decide to leave a sick friend on the street because they fear being cited for underage drinking.

Dick Tieszen, lobbyist with the South Dakota Sheriffs Association, says the bill excuses binge drinking and puts a precedent for other cases in which people could get immunity for calling 911.

The panel voted 6 to 1.
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