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Advocates celebrate 10 years of Indiana's Lifeline law, with eye towards expansion

Marketing specialist John Griffin stands at a lectern and gestures to a television screen to his side. The screen is displaying images and data from a marketing campaign aimed at educating young people about Indiana's Lifeline law. Griffin is a White man with dark gray hair, wearing a black suit.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
John Griffin is a marketing specialist with Urban One-Radio One in Indianapolis. He discusses the Make Good Decisions campaign, which helps spread awareness of Indiana's Lifeline law.

Indiana’s Lifeline law, which has now been in effect for 10 years, has reportedly helped save dozens of lives.

And its champions want to see it expanded in the upcoming legislative session.

The Lifeline law provides immunity from underage drinking charges if a minor seeks emergency help for themselves or someone else.

Dallas Gaines is with the University of Indianapolis police. He said the law removes a vital barrier to getting people help.

“They can call us," Gaines said. "They can look at us, they can trust us to be a help in the present time. In that panic moment, they know not to hesitate – and we’re coming.”

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Former state Sen. Jim Merritt was the Lifeline law’s author. He said he wants to see the immunity for minors expanded to include drug charges.

“Regardless of if there are needles or any sort of drugs around, they ought to be able to call or text 911 if they see someone overdosing,” Merritt said.

That proposed expansion failed to get any traction in the legislature years ago. It was blocked by committee chair Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis), who objected to the measure on philosophical grounds. But Young is no longer leading a committee, potentially opening a path for the bill.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.