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Underage Drinking and Opioid Overdose

Pennsylvania Amnesty Laws: Underage Drinking and Drug Overdose

 In 2011, then Governor Tom Corbett signed into law medical amnesty for underage drinking. This law added language to Title 18 Section 6308 that creates immunity from prosecution for an underage person (under 21) who possesses or consumes alcoholic beverages under these conditions:  if law enforcement becomes aware of the possession or consumption solely because the individual is seeking medical assistance for someone else.

To qualify for the immunity, the person seeking assistance must do the following::

  • Reasonably believe he or she is the first to call for assistance
  • Use his or her own name with authorities; and
  • Must stay with the individual needing medical assistance until help arrives


Drug Overdose Event      
In 2014, Gov. Corbett signed an amnesty law for drug overdoses. Any person who summons aid for someone believed to be in a medical emergency as a result of a drug overdose is immune from prosecution if he or she summons aid, provides his or her name, and remains with the person until emergency responders arrive.  It applies to the person experiencing the drug overdose event as well as the person initiating a request for help when witnessing a drug overdose.  The immunity law applies to the following circumstances: Police only discover the drug overdose because the person is transported for help or treatment.  


Immunity applies if all of the following apply:

  • The caller seeking help made the report reasonably believing that another person needed immediate medical attention to prevent death or serious bodily injury due to a drug overdose
  • The caller provided his/her own name and location and cooperated with law enforcement, and
  • The caller remains with the person needing immediate medical attention until police arrive.


Act 139 also gives  first responders including law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS or other organizations the ability to administer a medication known as Naloxone (brand name, Narcan), a life-saving opioid reversal medication, to individuals experiencing an opioid overdoses.

Naloxone can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug (i.e. prescription pain medication or heroin). When administered during an overdose, Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes. Naloxone has been used safely by medical professionals for more than 40 years and has only one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system and prevent death.

Ferguson Township Police Officers began to carry Naloxone on February 29, 2016 to assist residents and visitors in the event of an opioid overdose. Each officer has completed training to administer the drug. The Ferguson Township Police are administering the drug through an agreement with Centre Life Link EMS and Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Residents are also advised that Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine issued a statewide standing order for Naloxone, allowing the general public to obtain this medication from most pharmacies. While the medication may not be available for immediate pick-up, it can often be ordered and available within a day or two. For more information about the statewide standing order and the safe use of Nalaxone, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health's webpage on Opioid Abuse. Read the standing order.

Act 139: Drug Overdose Response Immunity

See an Overdose? Call 9-1-1 and Help Save a Life