NewsLocal News / October 24, 2013

Merritt Wants to Expand Indiana Lifeline Law

Sam Klemet
Merritt Wants to Expand Indiana Lifeline Law

A state senator wants to expand a law giving legal protection to those under 21 who call 911 when alcohol leads to a medical emergency.

The Indiana Lifeline Law provides amnesty to young people who seek medical attention for a person who has consumed too much alcohol.

Now, Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) wants the law changed to include all medical emergencies.

"That would include falling out of a tree, a fight, if a person is under the influence of anything from drugs to coffee to alcohol," said Merritt,  "We are proposing that if a person is not responsive, if a person is in need of medical attention, we do not want any barriers."

Merritt is touring campuses around the state getting feedback and says he has anecdotal evidence that the Lifeline Law is working and believes broadening its language will help even more.

"We don't condone any of this action. But, there always has to be gray in the law and I believe that people make mistakes," said Merrit.  "Hopefully they will learn from them, but I am not really about the reckless behavior, as much as I am about saving a life."

Some argue the law opens the door for substance abuse, but Tammy Loew of Purdue’s Student Wellness Office thinks it is encouraging more young people to make a call and supports Merritt's idea.

"A law like this gets put into place as an after the fact," she said.  "We know that something has already happened and somebody is in a life threatening situation. So, we want people to feel comfortable saving their life."

Merritt will introduce the proposed change during the next legislative session which starts in January.  



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