Intoxicated minors will be free to seek medical attention for others who have drunk too much without fear of being charged for underage drinking under a new law signed by Governor Mitch Daniels on Friday.
The Indiana Lifeline Law provides immunity from charges of public intoxication and possession, consumption and transportation of alcohol by minors if those people are discovered to have been drinking only after medical attention is sought for someone who’s had too much to drink. Governor Mitch Daniels says the bill isn’t so much about preventing prosecution – which doesn’t happen often anyway – as it is about addressing young people’s uncertainty.
“Students were hesitant to come to the aid or to summon aid to a friend who had overindulged in alcohol and sometimes with tragic consequences,” he says.
Purdue University Student Body President Brett Highley, who helped lobby for the law, says Purdue and Indiana University have already been using a program similar to the Lifeline law on their campuses. He says there have only been six or seven cases in which the program was used in the last year.
“It’s not incredibly rampant but, you know, the stakes are very high in those situations so it’s very important,” Highley says. “I think as we continue to be able to educate on it that we’ll see it used more.”
The law, which goes into effect July first, does not provide immunity for crimes including providing alcohol to a minor or driving under the influence. It does protect police from liability under some circumstances, including if a minor they let go under the law is later involved in a drunk driving accident.