Indiana officials promoting new alcohol amnesty law

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State officials are visiting Indiana college campuses to promote a new law that shields people from alcohol-related arrests if they seek medical help for those who are dangerously intoxicated.

The law took effect in July, but Attorney General Greg Zoeller and state Sen. Jim Merritt say many young people don't know about it. They made stops at Indiana University in Bloomington and Indiana State University in Terre Haute on Monday to spread the word.

Merritt sponsored the law during this year's legislative session. He says tragedies such as the August death of an 18-year-old in Carmel from alcohol poisoning could be prevented if friends call for help.

The Herald-Times and the Tribune-Star report Merritt says the amnesty law isn't meant to excuse underage drinking but to save lives.

This is the exact wording of the law:

Immunity for certain alcohol offenses. Prohibits a law enforcement officer from taking a person into custody for a crime of public intoxication or minor possession, consumption, or transportation of an alcoholic beverage if the officer, after making a reasonable determination and considering the facts and surrounding circumstances, reasonably believes that: (1) the officer has contact with the person because the person requested emergency medical assistance, or acted in concert with another person who requested emergency medical assistance, for an individual who reasonably appeared in need of medical assistance due to alcohol consumption; and (2) the person meets other requirements. Specifies that a person may not bring an action against a law enforcement officer based on the officer's compliance with or failure to comply with this prohibition. Provides that a person meeting these conditions is immune from criminal prosecution for public intoxication or minor possession, consumption, or transportation of an alcoholic beverage.

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