Underage drinkers in Florida who call 911 for help won't be punished under new law

A new law will protect underage drinkers in Florida if they are consuming alcohol and need to call for medical help.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 595 into law on Friday. The bill prohibits the "arrest or penalty under specified provisions of person seeking medical assistance for individual experiencing alcohol-related or drug-related overdose or for himself or herself."

"Public safety is paramount and it’s critical our young men and women get the medical attention they need in an emergency,” DeSantis said in a statement. “This bill helps ensure our young people on campuses will proactively seek medical help for their peers in emergency situations.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013, there were about 119,000 emergency rooms visits by people ages 12 to 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol. Based on data from 2006-2010, the CDC reports that alcohol was a factor in the deaths of over 4,300 people under the age of 21.

The new law takes effect July 1.