It’s that time of year again when we spend time outdoors with family and friends. In southern Indiana we are lucky to have a lot of beautiful green spaces and water ways where we can enjoy fresh air and sun. Graduations along with many other important events are celebrated this month. I would like to make you aware of a few bills that we passed in the General Assembly that may have an effect on choices made around celebrating not only the summer, but all of the important holidays that the summer brings.
The first piece of legislation was tested at Purdue and Indiana Universities’ campuses. Students and advocates for legislation called it the “life-line” bill and I also believe it will help save Hoosier lives in the future. The legislation prohibits a police officer from taking a person into custody for public intoxication or minor possession, consumption or transportation of an alcoholic beverage if that person has contacted the police for emergency medical assistance. Essentially, it creates a shield of protection against prosecution of an individual when that person has helped a fellow student or Hoosier who needs medical attention due to alcohol consumption. This bill received unanimous support in the House and takes effect on July 1.
It was also brought to our attention this year that Indiana’s, and many other states’, public intoxication laws are very inconsistent which can discourage people from drinking responsibly. There have been cases in Indiana where a person had been drinking, found a sober driver and then, after being pulled over by the police, find that the sober driver had an invalid license. The intoxicated person would then be arrested when they were unable to drive. We don’t want to discourage Hoosiers who have been drinking from finding a sober ride home.
This session we updated the law so that Indiana is now in line with 25 other states’ laws. The legislation reinforces and encourages the idea that drinking and driving will come with consequences but that those that make responsible decisions will not be punished for making the responsible decision.
Finally, this session we addressed the issue of operating a motor boat while intoxicated. There were inconsistencies with the laws in the state that put Hoosiers at risk while out on our beautiful waterways. We felt that if a person is under the influence while driving a boat, then their penalty should be same as if they were driving a car under the influence. I am pleased we were able to address this issue and believe that it will help to make sure that our waterways stay safe.
By creating a safer environment and updating our laws, we can all live healthier lives as Hoosiers. These bills make it easier for people to do the right thing and make responsible decisions. If you have any suggestions on ways to make Indiana an even safer and healthier state, please contact me at 1-800-382-9841 or by email at H75@in.gov.