Proponents of legislation that would expand Indiana’s Lifeline law say it will help save lives by removing barriers for minors seeking medical help for themselves and others.
Indiana’s Lifeline law, passed last session, provides immunity from underage drinking charges for minors that seek medical attention for other drunk minors.
Legislation authored by Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, would expand the law to provide the same immunity if reporting a crime or seeking medical attention for any reason, not just drinking too much.
Since its passage, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Merritt, have toured the state, visiting college campuses to teach students about the law. They’ve heard from young people who say the law is making a difference.
But Indiana University Student Association Vice President Christopher Kauffman says too many barriers still exist when underage drinkers encounter life or death situations.
“The proverbial telephone still weighs one thousand pounds in the heat of the moment, a factor of guilt, fear and possibly shame,” Kauffman says.
Dawn Finbloom’s son Brett was a Carmel High School student who died from an alcohol overdose. She says if her son’s friends had known about Lifeline, he might not have died.
“Brett’s message is the Lifeline law,” she says. “Brett’s message is to make good decisions but, if you have a friend that doesn’t, to not be afraid but to just make that call as soon as possible.”
Supporters of legislation expanding Indiana’s Lifeline law say their goal is to ensure no more young people die because their friends were too scared of criminal charges to call for help.
A Senate committee Wednesday unanimously approved the bill. It now heads to the Senate floor.