TRENTON - Daniel Meth was at a house party in northern New Jersey when his close friend, who was drunk, yelled something and stumbled into his bedroom. Meth realized he should go to sleep, so he gave him a bottle of water, helped him lie down, and took off his shoes.

Meth's friend, a 19-year-old college sophomore, did not wake up the next morning. He spent the next two months in a coma before dying.

Meth never called for help the night of the party, fearing he would get caught for underage drinking.

"I didn't want to get in trouble. I was 20 years old," said Meth, now 26.

Meth, who would not name his friend, testified before a state Senate committee yesterday to support a bill that could have shielded him from punishment had he called for help. The bill would grant immunity to anyone under 21 who has been drinking or illegally has alcohol if that person calls police when another underage person drinks too much and needs medical help.

Authorities would not be able to prosecute either the person who called or the one sickened.

The measure, approved by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans' Affairs Committee, now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Lawmakers said the bill would help save lives, since teenagers would not be scared to call for help.

"This is in no way a state-sponsored green light to drink," committee Chairman John Girgenti (D., Hawthorne) said in a statement.