OLYMPIA — The state House passed a bill Tuesday that aims to prevent alcohol-related deaths by encouraging minors to report cases of alcohol poisoning.
If enacted, House Bill 1404 would prevent minors suffering from alcohol poisoning from being prosecuted under minor-in-possession charges if they need medical attention. Minors helping alcohol-poisoning victims would get the same protection. Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, said young people frequently make mistakes, including drinking before they’re 21. He argued that mistake shouldn’t lead to a bigger one: a preventable death.
“At the end of the day it’s about protecting young people across the state and saving lives,” Liias said.
Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, said he had qualms about the bill and introduced amendments to narrow the definition of alcohol poisoning and require that those suffering alcohol poisoning call 911 instead of only seeking medical attention. Both amendments were voted down. Klippert then urged his colleagues to vote against the bill, arguing the legislation would encourage underage drinking.
“This bill just sends the wrong message,” Klippert said.
But a fellow Republican, Rep. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla, spoke in a favor of the bill.
“If this bill saves one life, just one teenage life, then it deserves a yes vote,” Walsh said.
The bill passed 72-24, and now moves to the Senate.