Indiana's Lifeline Law expansion advances

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An effort to expand Indiana's Lifeline Law is moving forward.

The current law is designed to encourage under-age people to call for help in alcohol-related emergencies. The expansion would provide legal immunity to minors under the influence of alcohol who call for help in any type of emergency, instead of only those related to alcohol consumption.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 227, unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Judiciary Wednesday.

State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a news conference after the hearing that the expansion will help save lives.

In a press release issued Wednesday, they provided statistics showing that two dozen Hoosiers under the age of 21 have died from alcohol poisoning in the last ten years. They also point to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which reports that more than one in five high school students has reported binge drinking.

Both Merritt and Zoeller have been visiting high schools to help spread the word about the law.

Also, during the committee hearing, Seh. Merritt introduced an amendment to the bill to help equip first responders with Naloxone, a treatment that counteracts the effects of a drug overdose.

The bill will now move to the full Senate.

Read the text of the bill.

Learn more about the current Lifeline Law.

Last fall, Sen. Merritt spoke with Eyewitness News about the need to educate young people about the law after the August 2013 death of Rachael Fiege, an Indiana University freshman from Zionsville.

Fiege died after a fall down the steps at an off-campus party before the fall semester began. She had a catastrophic brain injury. Her friends waited six hours to call 911, when they realized she was unconscious.

Merritt wants more young people to learn about the law and call for help during an emergency.