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Indiana Lifeline Law Includes Text To 911

The law gives minors immunity from underage drinking charges if they seek help for themselves or others. And, it applies to Text to 911.

911 text

Photo: Gretchen Frazee/WFIU News

A federal law requires police dispatchers to be able to receive texts by the end of the year.

Educating young people about Indiana’s Lifeline Law this year has a new focus – Text to 911. It’s the latest edition of what’s become a back-to-school tradition.

The Lifeline Law provides immunity from underage drinking charges to minors who seek help for themselves or others. And it applies not just to those who call 911, but those who text it as well.

State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell – who chairs the Statewide 911 Board – says texting allows dispatchers to more easily follow up on 911 hang-ups, citing a recent example.

“The caller who hung up ended up being a student who thought they had alcohol poisoning and they were worried about getting in trouble if they called for help,” Mitchell says.

Text to 911 services have been offered in some areas since 2014 and reached all counties last month. Still, far less than one percent of 911 communications are via text – which Mitchell says should go up as awareness campaigns roll out.

“Especially to inform out of state students of the Text to 911 capabilities because while we have this in Indiana, as you heard most other states don’t,” she says.

Mitchell says calling 911 is still preferred, but if texting, students should include their location first, then as much detail about the incident as possible.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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