Bartels: Students should know about Lifeline Law

By Herald Staff

State Rep. Steve Bartels, R-Eckerty wants college students to be aware of Indiana’s Lifeline Law.

Bartels represents House District 74, which covers Cass, Ferdinand, Jackson, Jefferson and Patoka townships in Dubois County, portions of Spencer and Orange counties and all of Perry and Crawford counties.

“College students throughout Indiana are heading back to campus, and while many will stay up all night studying, others will stay up all night partying.

I don’t condone underage drinking, but the reality is that it happens. In Indiana, half of all underage college students reported consuming alcohol on a monthly basis, according to a 2018 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Unfortunately, underage drinking can lead to tragedy. From 2004 to 2012, more than two dozen Hoosiers under the age of 21 died because of alcohol poisoning, according to Indiana Department of Health. These young lives might have been saved if bystanders sought medical attention, but often they never pick up their phone or reach out to for help, fearing punishment for underage drinking.

With Indiana’s Lifeline Law, underage Hoosiers can receive immunity for the crimes of public intoxication, minor possession, minor consumption and similar laws, if they’re seeking medical assistance for a person suffering from an alcohol-related health emergency. In order to receive immunity, the person must provide their full name and any other relevant information requested by law enforcement officers, remain on the scene until law enforcement and emergency medical assistance arrives, and cooperate with authorities on the scene.

The law doesn’t interfere with law enforcement procedures or limit the ability to prosecute for other criminal offenses such as providing alcohol to minors, operating vehicles while intoxicated or the possession of a controlled substance.

Not only can lives be saved, but this legislation also helps encourage witnesses or victims of sexual assault to report crimes without fearing charges for underage drinking. Nationwide, it’s believed only 20% of campus sexual assaults are ever reported to police, according to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Helping victims and witnesses feel safe when coming forward better ensures justice is served and offenders are held accountable.

We need to make sure young Hoosiers are aware of Indiana’s Lifeline Law providing legal protections to those who are underage and reporting a medical emergency or crime, especially if alcohol is involved. While universities and colleges provide information about the law, we can all do our part to spread the word so that lives can be saved.

For more information, visit indianalifeline.org, call my office at 317-232-9863 or email h74@iga.in.gov.

To all of the local college students, please be safe and responsible as you invest in your futures. I wish you all a great school year.”




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