The Indiana state senator who sponsored a law that aims to protect minors from arrest when they seek medical attention for alcohol-related emergencies is joining Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller in spreading the word on college campuses.
Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, joined Zoeller today on a visit to Purdue University in West Lafayette to promote , SEA 274, enacted this year by Gov. Mitch Daniels. Merritt and Zoeller also were scheduled to visit Wabash College in Crawfordsville and DePauw University in Greencastle today.
Zoeller said in a statement that many college students are unaware of the law that passed without opposition and was drafted with input from students. “By raising public awareness that the Lifeline Law protects them, we hope that young people will not be reluctant to call 911 – and will instead seek medical help for impaired friends and not look the other way,” Zoeller said.
Merritt said the law was passed because binge drinking can be a matter of life and death.
“More than two dozen Hoosier students under the age of 21 have lost their lives to alcohol poisoning since 2004,” Merritt said. “Unfortunately, the fact is, many of these deaths could have been prevented if bystanders or actual friends sought medical attention immediately for the victims. Indiana's Lifeline Law encourages students to do just that – make the call to save a life.”
The law creates legal immunity for the person who calls emergency services, meaning the prosecutor would not file criminal charges for alcohol offenses – such as illegal possession or public intoxication – against those who request help for an intoxicated friend, according to the statement from Zoeller’s office.
Zoeller and Merritt previously visited Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana State University in Terre Haute and Ball State University in Muncie to raise awareness of the Lifeline Law.