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NH Legislature Debates Good Sam Law

The Valley News published an editorial on Saturday in praise of a proposed Good Samaritan law that is being debated in the NH legislature:

The proposal in New Hampshire is simple and straightforward: “Any person who places a call through the enhanced 911 system to report a suspected drug or alcohol related emergency shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability for good faith conduct arising from or pertaining to the placing of the call.” That protection is extended to the person experiencing the emergency.

Enactment of this law — like ones already in place in ten other states — would deprive the Town of Hanover police of its main venue for arresting Dartmouth students (currently a full arrest in the case of a second offence, or running them into an expensive Town diversion program for their first infraction) for abuse of the underage drinking laws, a regular event that I reported in The D on February 16, 2007:

Additionally, Safety and Security does not transport incapacitated students to DHMC in its own vehicles, so when Dick’s House determines that a student is incapacitated, the College calls for the Town of Hanover ambulance — an action that almost always elicits an arrest by the Hanover Police Department.

Once in the hands of the Hanover Police, a student confronts a choice between a court hearing that usually leads to a fine of between $250 and $300, an Internet-retrievable court record and a possible 30-day loss of driving privileges when the court automatically reports excessive consumption to the DMV or participation in the town’s day-long “diversion” program at a cost to the student of $400.

This law would remove a deterrent that restrains students from calling for help. Support it.

Addendum: Dartmouth has had its own internal Good Sam rule for more than a decade now. The Valley News’ Jim Kenyon commented on the importance of these rules in October 2009. And one might have hoped that Hanover’s Selectboard would have long ago issued enlightened guidance to Chief Giaccone in this area.

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