Legislation that lawmakers have touted as lifesaving is due to come into effect in Florida at the beginning of July. The law, which Governor Ron DeSantis signed on Friday, will enable underage people to call for medical help without fear of being charged if they are intoxicated from alcohol.
House Bill 595
The bill, officially House Bill 595, was put forward by a pair of lawmakers – including the Republican Senator Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg. The move expands upon a law that a growing number of states have implemented which protects people from legal charges if they call for medical attention for someone who has overdosed on drugs.
So far, where these laws have been enacted, they have contributed to a reduction in deaths from drug overdoses. They are rapidly becoming considered as essential public health measures and are likely to be rolled out more widely throughout the nation over the next several years. The Governor said that it is “critical” that young Floridians were able to seek out medical attention when it was needed.
It will also hopefully encourage underage drinkers to seek medical attention on behalf of others, as well as themselves. Where similar bills have been used elsewhere in the United States, and the rest of the world, they have made a big difference to the rates at which people die from overdoses.
The Florida Board of Governors, a body that oversees public universities operating within the state of Florida, had made getting the legislation passed a top priority.
It is also hoped that another effect of the legislation will lead to a reduction in the number of people being killed or injured in road accidents. Unfortunately, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there were over 30,000 drunk driving arrests made in 2017 alone. Unfortunately, 14.5% of the DUI arrests involved an auto accident.
Many law firms are also supportive of this bill, despite the fact that they will presumably not be able to make as much money representing the people who are involved in drinking and driving incidents. However, drunk driving is a real problem, and one that governments around the world have struggled to solve. Laws like these, which encourage the reporting of potential incidents before they occur, are a step in the right direction.
The bill’s sponsors have pointed out that the law will be particularly important in reducing the number of students who are involved in serious incidents. Every year, thousands of students are injured in DUI incidents. The impact of these incidents on families and local communities is devastating. it is also a terrible thing for any student to have to go through the death of a close friend because of an alcohol-related incident.
So far, the proposed legislation has been met with near-universal praise and so the ascent of the bill into law seems all but a certainty. It will hopefully now be able to proceed through the last couple of stages of its passing without incident or delay.