Michigan law protects underage drinkers who seek medical care - what to know this prom, graduation season

(Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

With prom and graduation season underway, some teens may be celebrating alcohol despite their age.

Though this is illegal, minors who seek voluntary medical care while drinking underage will not face charges in Michigan. 

Medical amnesty laws allow a person under 21 to seek treatment or observation, including an examination and treatment for any condition as a result of sexual assault. Minors can also contact police and emergency medical services for legitimate healthcare concerns. A person who accompanies the minor is also protected.

This means that a person drinking underage will not face prosecution if they need to visit a hospital or call an ambulance.

Michigan also has a Good Samaritan law that prevents a person from being charged when they seek treatment during a drug overdose.

Drinking underage and using drugs can still lead to charges if the person is caught while not seeking medical care. These laws just allow a person to receive potentially lifesaving care without fear of being punished, which is often a barrier to calling for help.

Alcohol poisoning signs

A minor exhibiting signs of alcohol poisoning would be a time when medical amnesty laws apply.

Signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Slow breathing, which is fewer than eight breaths a minute.
  • Breathing that's not regular. This is when there is a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths.
  • Skin that looks blue, gray, or pale.
  • Low body temperature, also known as hypothermia.
  • Trouble staying conscious or awake.

If you suspect a person has alcohol poisoning, stay with them and call 911. If the person is throwing up, try to keep them upright, or turn them on their side if they lie down to minimize choking chances.