Criminal Justice

College Students Get Web Messages About Lifeline Law

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August 26, 2014 — TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Students returning to several Indiana colleges will be blasted with social media messages reminding them to call 911 to help friends who are in trouble, even if they’ve been drinking illegally.

A new campaign to promote the Indiana Lifeline Law means students accessing the web through their colleges or universities’ wi-fi could see the ads on Facebook, YouTube and Pandora. The campaign also includes a series of statewide radio advertisements featuring testimonials from parents who lost a child from underage drinking activities.

“This public awareness initiative is necessary to ensure students are informed about the Lifeline Law and the steps they can take to save a friend’s life,” said Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, the author of the law. “When lives are at risk, the focus must be on getting medical help.”

The law gives immunity to callers under 21 years old who are looking for help for someone who has had too much to drink. This year, legislators extended the law to other medical emergencies, such as when someone falls or has a concussion. It would also protect victims of a sexual assault or those who witness and report a crime from being charged with underage drinking.

The campaign targets students based on their web access at Indiana, Ball State, Purdue, Indiana State, Notre Dame, Indiana-Purdue at Indianapolis, Evansville, DePauw, Indiana Wesleyan, Southern Indiana, Butler, Wabash and Trine universities. Students on those campuses will receive a total of 2 million impressions during the first three weeks of the fall semester.

The messaging will occur through triangulation between cell towers, creating a digital dome over the geography of a campus.

The Indiana Youth Services Association, the Foundation For Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and other groups helped put together the campaign.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has been traveling with Merritt across the state to promote the law. He said the public-private partnership that created the campaign will “reach the next generation of incoming students and empower them with knowledge of the Lifelife Law.”

“Alcohol poisoning can have tragic consequences for young people, their families and friends,” Zoeller said. “It is essential to call 911 in a medical emergency and the Lifeline Law removes any legal barrier to making that call.”

More than 100,000 messages have also been distributed and used in liquor stores across Indiana, telling students to “make the call; save a life.”

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