Lifeline law could be expanded to protect underage drinkers in need

New laws take effect dealing with criminal code, expanded Lifeline law

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — For seven years, the Indiana Lifeline Law has provided immunity to underage drinkers who call 911 for a drunk friend in medical need.

“We have a great story to tell,” said State Sen. Jim Merritt. “We’ve actually saved 54 lives.”

However, Merritt believes this law has the potential to save even more lives if lawmakers expand the immunity to the underage drinker in medical need.

“I feel that if I knew my friend would get in trouble, I probably wouldn’t call,” said UIndy Freshman Genesis Brown.

Merritt said that’s exactly what’s happening. Students just let their friends sleep it off and think they will just wake up hungover in the morning.

“Well that’s not the case,” said Merritt. “People have actually died when their situation is ignored.”

Some argue this bill could enable underage people to drink alcohol. Genesis Brown said that’s naïve.

“You’re not encouraging it, but you know it’s more than likely going to happen,” said Brown. “So, it is better to put things in place to help save other people’s lives.”

Sen. Merritt has proposed this idea several times before, but he said this time will be different.

“The case can be made that over the last seven years, we’ve saved 54 lives, so many different groups are supporting us,” said Merritt.

He said people had the same enabling argument when it came to Narcan, the life-saving overdose drug.

“We’ve saved a lot of lives with Narcan being in everybody’s hands and that took three sessions to do so as well,” said Merritt.

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