The legislature already passed the so-called Indiana Lifeline Bill that would grant immunity to those who call an ambulance or the authorities on behalf of someone who has had too much to drink. The second piece of legislation would keep individuals from being convicted of public intoxication unless they are endangering their own life, someone else’s life or are causing a disturbance.
Bloomington Representative Matt Pierce is on the conference committee tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill. He says it should help keep drunk drivers off the road.
“Under current law if you’re basically intoxicated—you’re drunk—and you get in your car and drive and you are arrested for drunk driving, you actually face a lesser penalty than if you decide to walk home and you’re arrested for public intoxication,” Pierce says.
Director of the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking Lisa Hutcheson says she worries law enforcement will not decide someone is causing a disturbance until it is too late. And, she says, it could have unintended consequences.
“There are young people who are going to see that. There are families who are going to see that. You know, young children. I think that starts to really normalize that behavior,” Hutcheson says.
Pierce says the legislation puts Indiana in line with the legal code of 45 other states.