General Assembly expands Indiana’s Lifeline Law
Each bill that we work on has a story, and the unfortunate truth is that sometimes the stories are tragic. The Lifeline Law, which first passed in 2012, is something that is in place to save lives. We worked this session to expand the scope of this law, so the positive effects can be realized by more people.
The initial Lifeline Law gives a minor, who called 911 to report an alcohol-related medical emergency, immunity against crimes like minor consumption if they cooperate with authorities by doing things like giving their full name, remaining on the scene and willingly providing any information that police officers, medical responders or investigators deem useful. While I do not condone drinking underage, or any illicit activities, I know that it happens, especially on college campuses.
This year, the Indiana General Assembly voted to expand this bill. Now, the Lifeline Law gives legal protection to individuals who report any medical emergency, such as a sexual assault or drug overdose, where alcohol is involved.
The Lifeline expansion also states that the Indiana Emergency Medical Services Commission must establish standards that would allow a first responder, whether it is an EMT, firefighter or police officer, to administer an overdose intervention drug to an individual who suffers from an overdose. Distribution, use, training and administration of the overdose prevention drug will be the commission’s responsibility, making sure that whoever is the first to arrive on a drug overdose scene, the issue can be treated as soon as possible.
According to a survey by the Indiana Collegiate Action Network, 67 percent of the Indiana college students who participated in the survey reported drinking alcohol in the past month, with 59% of those students being under the age of 21. This bill relates to many students and has the potential to save the lives of individuals who suffer from an overdose or an injury or other medical emergency due to alcohol consumption.
In addition to immunity, this expansion also includes a requirement for the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana to study and evaluate crimes of sexual violence against children and the impact of social media, wireless communications, digital media and new technology on crimes against children. With the ever-changing state of technology, it becomes increasingly more important to understand and track access to our children via social media and other digital avenues.
It also requires that the State Department of Health or the Office of Women’s Health to study domestic and sexual violence. These studies would look at the number of domestic and sexual violence victims, reasons why these crimes are too often underreported, and best practices to improve reporting at treat victims. This portion of the bill was added in response to the dramatic increase of sexual assaults around the state—nearly one in six Hoosier women has gone through this. Indiana needs to be at the forefront of addressing these issues so we can prevent as many of these crimes as possible.
To me, as a father and legislator, this is a very important public policy bill. It is my hope that you will pass along this information to your children and loved ones so that they know they are being protected by law when reporting a medical emergency or crime, especially if alcohol is involved. For more information on this bill and other bills, please feel free to call my office at 317-232-9833 or log onto www.in.gov/legislative.