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Hal Garfinkel is retained as the defendant's lawyer in the Chicago high profile murder case of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez. Read more...

underage drinkers, Chicago Area Criminal Defense AttorneyPut yourself in the shoes of a teenage or underage drinker at a party: You see somebody sick, passed out, at risk of alcohol poisoning, and in need of help, but what do you do? For any adult, the choice is clear—seek professional help immediately. For an underage drinker, however, the choice may not be as easy.

Illinois provides immunity for those that call for help in situations of drug overdose due to serious drugs like heroine. If the victim's life was at risk, whoever made the call to authorities would be protected from any serious criminal repercussions. In years past, however, the same immunity was not afforded to underage drinkers, leaving some state lawmakers worried. Stuck between calling for help for a potentially dying friend or facing the legal consequences of drinking underage, experts worried that underage drinkers would make the wrong choice. Now, thanks to a new law that went into effect on the first of this month, special immunity may be provided to underage drinkers that calls for help in life threatening situations.

State lawmakers say that the new protection is not meant to serve as a free pass for underage drinkers, but instead protect youths whose lives may be at serious risk due to drinking. Before the measure went into effect, one Illinois State Representative recalled a situation where a minor was in dire need of medical attention, but those around him were hesitant to seek help. “People were reluctant to call for help, but someone did. And then both the teenager and the friend who called ended up getting a citation for the situation. The parents felt that was wrong, because we ought to be trying to protect kids rather than deter them from seeking medical help.”

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