Indiana Lifeline Law Could Prevent Alcohol-Related Deaths

By Rachel Martin - 21Alive

October 21, 2013 Updated Oct 21, 2013 at 11:33 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – The Indiana Attorney General visited IPFW to talk about the state’s latest immunity law regarding minors.

According to the Indiana Department of Health, more than two dozen Hoosiers under 21-years old have died as a result of alcohol poisoning since 2004.

It may seem like a low statistic over several years, but lawmakers say those are deaths that could be prevented.

Lawmakers and college and university officials say that sometimes people under 21, who are drinking, are afraid to call 911 in alcohol-related emergencies for fear of getting in trouble themselves. As a result, sometimes young people lose their lives.

So, the Indiana legislature put a stop to that last year by enacting the Indiana Lifeline Law, which is now in effect.

Many Indiana universities have their own, similar policies in place, but this law will serve as an umbrella over all other codes.

Monday night, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller spoke to IPFW students about the law, which states that minors who are under the influence will not be prosecuted for crimes like "minor consumption" if they request medical attention for another person and cooperate with police.

Zoeller says he hopes this will urge people to do the right thing.

"So if they've passed out, if they've stopped breathing, someone can call 911, stay with the person, help them get the help they need, and not be prosecuted for underage drinking, something like that,” he said.

However, Zoeller says this law will not get someone out of criminal offenses like providing to a minor, driving while intoxicated, or possession of a controlled substance.

In order to gain immunity, Zoeller says after placing the emergency call, that person must provide their full name and any other information requested, stay on the scene until law enforcement or medical assistance arrives, and cooperate with authorities on the scene.

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