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If I'm under 21 and have been drinking, will I get in trouble if I call 911 or get help for someone else who is passed out from consuming too much alcohol?

No. Local guidelines, including Penn State’s Responsible Action Protocol and Pennsylvania’s Medical Amnesty Law, protect students from prosecution for consumption or possession of alcohol when they seek help for a peer who is passed out, unconscious or unresponsive as the result of over-consumption.

Pennsylvania's Medical Amnesty Law

If an individual, in good faith, calls and believes they are the first to call 911, police, ambulance or campus security, gives their name and stays with the person to prevent that person’s death or serious injury, the caller is immune from prosecution for consumption or possession of alcohol.

Penn State's Responsible Action Protocol

A student who acts responsibly by notifying the appropriate authorities (e.g., calling 911, alerting a resident assistant, contacting police) AND meets one or more of the following criteria typically will not face University conduct action for his or her own use or possession of alcohol or drugs. However, the student will be required to attend an approved alcohol or drug education program, such as BASICS or the Marijuana Intervention Program (MIP); the fee will be waived. When the student’s behavior involves other Code of Conduct violations, (e.g., vandalism, assault, furnishing to minors) the additional behavior may be subject to disciplinary action. If a student exhibits a pattern of problematic behavior with alcohol or drugs, that student may be subject to formal disciplinary action.

The criteria which invoke the Protocol are:

  • A student seeks medical assistance for himself or herself when experiencing an alcohol or drug overdose or related problems
  • A student seeks medical assistance for a peer suffering from an alcohol or drug overdose or related problems
  • A student suffering from an alcohol or drug overdose or related problems, for whom another student seeks assistance also will not be subject to disciplinary action for alcohol violations.