The Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution last night in support of a state bill that protects intoxicated students who call an ambulance for an intoxicated friend from getting charged with a Minor in Possession.

With the passage of the resolution, MSA officials will inform the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee that MSA supports House Bill 4876 — or the Medical Amnesty Act. If passed, the act would allow intoxicated minors who seek medical attention for friends or themselves to be exempt from punishment.

The Michigan House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 98-7 on Oct. 21, 2009. The bill was passed on to the Michigan Senate Judiciary Committee the next day, where it is now waiting to be voted on in the committee.

If the Medical Amnesty Act passes, the University’s Department of Public Safety will have to adopt the procedures the law would call for.

MSA representatives are working with the Michigan State University Student Government to lobby for consideration and passage of the bill.

The Medical Amnesty Protocol — the policy that inspired the bill — was first introduced by Cornell University in 2002. Studies found that the protocol positively changed alcohol-related consequences for students who wanted to help intoxicated friends receive medical attention.

Because of the MAP at Cornell University, MSA’s resolution said that there were significant increases in the number of “alcohol-related calls for assistance to emergency medical services.”

The resolution also stated that “students were less likely to report fear of getting an intoxicated person in trouble as a barrier to calling for help.”

Jason Raymond, chair of the External Relations Committee, said the Ann Arbor Police Department is sometimes a deterrent for students who want to call an ambulance for a friend but are intimidated by the police.

“The Ann Arbor police continually tell us that they are not trying to prey on students,” Raymond said. “The problem is that perception exists. Students fear the police.”

According to MSA’s resolution, if House Bill 4867 is passed, the Michigan Liquor Control Code will be amended — ultimately allowing minors to avoid receiving an MIP if they call 911.

Raymond, a Business School junior, said the bill is not a way for students to beat the criminal justice system. Instead, he said the act would benefit the lives of University students.

“It is something that a lot of students care about,” Raymond said. “The bill isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for students that like to have fun. It’s more of a safety measure.”

Raymond said collaboration with MSU’s student government helped get massive support from the Michigan House of Representatives. He said lobbying efforts toward state Senate approval might be slow because MSA’s relationship with the Michigan Senate Committee on Judiciary is just beginning.

Steven Zuckerman, chair of MSA’s Students Rights Commission, said the passing of the act will reiterate a “good Samaritan policy.”

“It’s about being a good citizen, a good friend,” Zuckerman said. “That legally you are not going to be reprimanded for being intoxicated when the more pressing issue is that your friend might not be okay.”

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