THE INDIANA LIFELINE LAW
WHAT IS THE INDIANA LIFELINE LAW?
- This Good Samaritan law allows young people to get help for themselves and others who need immediate medical attention due to alcohol poisoning, drug overdose, sexual assault, or other emergencies without the concern of being prosecuted for underage drinking (public intoxication, minor possession, minor consumption, and minor transportation alcohol).
- Any person calling or texting 911 to get medical help for someone will not be prosecuted for underage drinking if he/she cooperates fully with police.
- Other young people present will not be arrested for underage drinking if they do these 3 things:
- Remain on the scene until police and ambulance arrive,
- Provide their full name and any other relevant information to police
- Cooperate with authorities once they arrive
- The law does not provide protection for other crimes, such as providing alcohol to a minor or driving while intoxicated.
WHAT’S THE MAKE GOOD DECISIONS MESSAGE?
Make good decisions. Be yourself and be a friend to others. Our message for teens is to choose to not drink because it’s illegal, potentially dangerous, and can lead to making bad decisions that could hurt yourself or others. We do not promote underage drinking, but we recognize that it happens. We want everyone to be aware of the Indiana Lifeline Law to save lives. In an emergency, teens should not be afraid to pick up the phone and text or dial 911. Please get immediate help if you think someone is in need of medical attention. We also want you and your friends to discuss this law prior to an emergency and to agree with each another that the others have their permission to call or text 911 if it is necessary. The Indiana Lifeline Law is simple; “Make the Call. Get Help. Save a Life.”
WHY WAS THE LIFELINE LAW CREATED?
College students saw some of their fellow students experiencing alcohol poisoning. Some nearly died, some suffered injuries, and some did lose their life. So, student government leaders in campuses across Indiana came together. They researched medical amnesty policies in a few other states. Then they asked State Senator Jim Merritt to author legislation for them. At first, Sen. Merritt thought that such a law could lead to increased underage drinking. But then after very careful consideration he determined that a state medical amnesty law would potentially educate young Hoosiers about the dangers of alcohol and would Help Save Lives. He authored The Indiana Lifeline Law which became effective on July 1, 2012. (Senate Bill 274). At the time only a few states had such a law and now the majority of states have a medical amnesty law. Tragically, in early August of 2012, a teen died at a teen party after simply drinking too much, too fast. This teen was 18-year-old Brett Finbloom. Sen. Merritt immediately found out about this tragedy and realized that The Lifeline Law would only save lives if teens knew and understood The Lifeline Law. Brett’s death was certainly a tragedy because if Brett and his friends and known the dangers of drinking too much, too fast; the alcohol poisoning signs; and that they could call 911 to get emergency help; Brett would have had a much better chance of survival. Brett’s friends simply did NOT Know Enough. Sen. Merritt, Brett’s family, and Indiana Youth Services Association combined forces and created The Make Good Decisions Initiative to Empower Teens, Young Adults, and Families with Life-Saving Knowledge.
LIFELINE LAW EXPANSION
During the 2014 legislative session, Sen. Merritt expanded Indiana’s Lifeline Law to help save more young lives. The original amnesty provisions ALL still apply, and with additional protections now provided pursuant to Senate Bill 227: Immunity from Arrest or Prosecution
- Gives immunity from certain alcohol-related offenses to minors who call to report a medical emergency or crime (prior was only for alcohol-related emergency).
- Explanation: Now if you are underage and have been drinking and you witness any medical emergency or crime you will have immunity from prosecution for underage drinking and most alcohol-related offenses. Remember: CALL/TXT-STAY-COOPERATE
- Gives immunity from certain alcohol-related offenses to minors who are the victim of a sex offense.
- Explantion: Now it is clearly stated that if you are underage and have been drinking and you are the victim of a sex offense that you can report the sex offense and not worry about being prosecuted for underage drinking.
New Mitigating Circumstance
- Establishes a mitigating circumstance for a person convicted of a controlled substance offense if the person’s conviction was facilitated in part because the person requested emergency medical help for an individual suffering from an alcohol or substance-related emergency.
New Deferral Program
- Allows a court to defer entering a judgment of conviction for a person arrested for an alcohol offense if they were arrested after a report that the person needed medical assistance due to the use of alcohol.
- Explanation: This provision means that if the person in need of medical help is arrested that the court has discretion to not punish. Clearly public policy dictates that there be no punishment.
LIFELINE IN A NUTSHELL
It’s ALWAYS BEST to do THE RIGHT THING! Know the Alcohol/Drug Poisoning Signs and if you have “an inkling” that someone needs help, then get them immediate medical help at a medical facility. Don’t wait and Debate. Time is of the essence.