Criminal Justice

Lawmaker Looks to Change Intoxication Law

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October 28, 2013 — An Indiana State Senator wants to expand a law that allows intoxicated minors to seek medical attention for others who have drunk too much without worrying about prosecution.

The Indiana Lifeline Law provides immunity for minors from charges of public intoxication and illegal alcohol possession if they’re discovered to have been drinking only after seeking medical attention for someone else who’s had too much to drink.

Indianapolis Republican Senator Jim Merritt, who wrote the law, has been touring college campuses and high schools, spreading the word about the measure.

He says his plans to expand the law are based on feedback he’s gotten from students, specifically the concern that young people don’t always know if the person they want to help needs medical attention because of too much alcohol, “The change is that the under-21 year old doesn’t have to play doctor and say, ‘Oh, I know he’s been drinking,’ or ‘I know he’s on drugs,’ or ‘I know he’s fell down or food poisoning.’  We are removing a barrier so that 911 is called as soon as possible.”

The expansion would provide the Lifeline law’s same immunity to intoxicated minors that seek medical attention for anyone in trouble, not just someone who’s drunk too much.  The original law passed unanimously in 2012, and Merritt says he anticipates the same smooth path next session.

By Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith


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