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Gonzaga's Good Samaritan Policy for Alcohol and Drug Use

If you think your friend has alcohol poisoning and you call for help, will your friend get an MIP charge? If you are drinking too will you get an MIP charge if you call for help? Will you be disciplined by Gonzaga University? The answer to these first two questions is no. The answer to the third question is maybe.

Gonzaga MIP

Washington State Law

In 2013, Washington enacted a medical amnesty law granting immunity to underage drinking laws under certain circumstances. The law provides: "A person under the age of twenty-one years acting in good faith who seeks medical assistance for someone experiencing alcohol poisoning shall not be charged or prosecuted [for MIP] if the evidence for the charge was obtained as a result of the person seeking medical assistance." The law goes on to read: "A person under the age of twenty-one years who experiences alcohol poisoning and is in need of medical assistance shall not be charged or prosecuted [for MIP], if the evidence for the charge was obtained as a result of the poisoning and need for medical assistance."

Note that the law does not provide immunity for the charge of furnishing alcohol to minors.

Gonzaga University Policy

Like an increasing number of schools across the United States, Gonzaga has adopted a policy that may give disciplinary immunity to underage students using alcohol that call for help for a friend.

The Gonzaga policy states: "Students are expected to report all incidences which threaten the health and safety of others so that those affected can receive the support and resources they need. Therefore, violations of the university's alcohol and drug policies may, within the discretion of university officials, be exempt from disciplinary actions in situations where a student's health and safety are at stake. However, the university may initiate an educational discussion about the use of alcohol or drugs and their impact."

While this doesn't grant blanket immunity (like our state criminal code), it does appear that Gonzaga does recognize that punishing alcohol infractions is a bad idea because it may discourage students from calling authorities for help.

So I would echo the position of the student on Yik Yak who stated that students should not be afraid to call for help is one of their classmates is overdosing on alcohol or other drugs.

Attorney Graham is a dedicated Spokane criminal defense attorney who can handle criminal charges including underage drinking.